George Gershwin c.1919

1919 was the year that George Gershwin’s “Swanee” became an international smash hit. Obscure in comparison to “Swanee” was Gershwin’s “Lullaby” which was composed during the same year.

Gershwin’s “Lullaby” was not published or publicly performed during Gershwin’s lifetime. It was occasionally played privately for George by friends who played strings. Being 20 years old at the time of its composition, it is considered one of his earliest “serious” musical works which was very likely composed under the guidance of his teacher at the time, Edward Kilenyi.

The main melody of “Lullaby” was later used by Gershwin in “Has Anyone Seen Joe?” from his Blue Monday Blues operetta of 1922. I wouldn’t be surprised if you missed that operetta, as it was pulled from the show after its first and only performance.

My jazz trio rendition of Gershwin’s “Lullaby” is different from the string version (which is very beautiful and can be seen on YouTube here). I chose to give my version a swing rhythm and play up the uniquely Gershwin melodies. I also accentuate the 3/4 rhythm in the middle interlude to help make more melodic sense of those impressionistic passages. The fake-book style sheet music for “Lullaby” has been transposed to the key of C for simplicity’s sake, and most ties have been avoided for the same reason.

Download the fake-book style sheet music for “Lullaby” here: Lullaby

The song below is a faster tempo version to bring out the wonderful Gershwin melodies and make the middle waltz-time passages more comprehensible.


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