Waltz Legends No. 3


Charles Hambitzer, Gershwin’s music teacher from 1914-1917, was a pianist, composer of light opera and viola player in the acclaimed Waldorf Astoria Orchestra.

This is not a Gershwin song, but historic nonetheless. Charles Hambitzer, George Gershwin’s first serious music teacher, composed this in 1917.

Hambitzer wrote to his sister shortly after beginning lessons with a 15-year-old Gershwin: “I have a new pupil who will make his mark in music if anybody will. The boy is a genius, without a doubt. He’s just crazy about music and can’t wait until it’s time to take his lesson.”

Later, Gershwin would say of Hambitzer, “I was crazy about that man. I went out, in fact, and drummed up ten pupils for him.” One of those pupils was George’s friend Nat Shilkret who went on to have a hugely successful career as a conductor and bandleader.

Gershwin also respected Hambitzer’s as a composer, saying that Hambitzer “wrote what I then considered the finest light music.”

The only music of his that I was able to locate was this, but no recordings of any of his work were available online. (Author’s update: I have since found four other songs of his at Baylor University’s website. Also, the Library of Congress has other works available for a fee.) But now there is a recording of his work, and here it is! It’s only the first portion of the piece. Hopefully I’ll get around to the rest of it soon. I also did not record any of the repeats in the SoundCloud file below.

This pdf I created of  waltz-legends-no-3-part-1 is a simplified fake-book style transcription. It did not lend itself to typical chords and melody notation, as many of the measures start, not with a chord, but with a single melody note.

This pdf imslp264591-pmlp428693-waltz_legends_no-_3 contains the complete piece as notated by Irene Tsao. I discovered it at the International Music Score Library Project website found at http://imslp.org/wiki/Main_Page.


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