Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The Jerome Kern Encyclopedia

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The Jerome Kern Encyclopedia

Article excerpt

The Jerome Kern Encyclopedia. By Thomas S. Hischak. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2013. 327 p. Alkaline $80 (ISBN: 978-0-8108-9167-8). E-book available (978-0-8108-9168-5), $79.99.

An encyclopedia dedicated to the merits and contributions of one person can sometimes fall into one of two camps: overly detailed to the point of pedantry or not detailed enough. However, The Jerome Kern Encyclopedia strikes the balance between the two, and as a result is a well-defined and interesting reference volume dealing with the work of one of America's most influential theatre and film composers.

Besides entries on the full-scale musicals Kern composed for the stage and screen, the volume also contains entries on over a hundred of his songs, as well as entries on the major lyricists, performers, directors, and producers he worked with over the course of his career. It includes a biography of Kern and appendixes on his career and recordings, as well as a bibliography and an index. Perhaps the most intriguing element of all the various sections of the book is the preface, which details the sad end of Kern's life: after browsing some antiques stores, he collapsed in the street. Having no identification on him but an unsigned American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) card, the hospital called the ASCAP office and Oscar Hammerstein arrived and identified Kern, his collaborator on Show Boat and other works. …

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