This piece dates from around 1914 when George Gershwin was about 15-years-old. My recording below is a simplified version of his composition, which is a ragtime version of Robert Schumann’s Traumerei.
After hearing Gershwin’s lively take on Traumerei, it came as a surprise to me how very slow Schumann’s song was. Presumably, Gershwin was assigned to play the Schumann piece in his studies with Charles Hambitzer and decided he could improve upon the original. If you compare the Schumann and Gershwin, you can see how Gershwin was not content with a simple note for note translation of Traumerei into ragtime, but rather he created completely original passages that helped give it the feel of a more complete ragtime tune.
Though lost in the last 100 years, there were once lyrics for “Ragging the Traumerei” written by George’s friend Leonard Praskins (pictured on the left). Praskins also wrote lyrics to a now-lost Gershwin song called “Since I Found You.” So if anyone out there happens to stumble upon either of these lyrics in your Gershwin pursuits, please be sure to drop me a line.
Leonard Praskins went on to write for movies and TV for shows like Maverick, Wagon Train, and a recent discovery of mine, The Thin Man TV show to name just a few.
Fake-Book PDF: You can download the fake-book style sheet music (chords and melody only) here: ragging-the-traumerei
And here is what it sounds like:
Paul Bisaccia’s version can be heard here.
Anyone interested in trying to resurrect this song with new lyrics, please check out the New Lyric Competition for Ragging the Traumerei here.