by Janet Roitz | See: All, By Janet

‘Humoresque’- that laugh on life with a tear behind it*

The minute music publisher Fritz Simrok heard Anton Dvorak’s “Humoresque N7″ in 1894 he knew he had a hit on his hands. Simrock wasted no time in having the piece arranged for just about every musical instrument under the sun – thus securing its place on the programs of student recitals and concert halls from Budapest to Baltimore.

Simrok and Dvorak

Fritz Simrock and Antonin Dvorak

Fast-forward a couple of decades and Dvorak’s “song of many joys” was still belovedly perched on music stands everywhere. Adding to its popularity was the short story, “Humoresque” by Fannie Hurst* followed by a silent movie based on her book about a violin virtuoso going off to war. Sheet music publishers, always on the lookout for a catchy number, found lyricists up and down Tin Pan Alley ready and willing to guild Dvorak’s lily of a tune. Future lyric writing luminaries such as Al Dubin, (I Only Have Eyes For You, Lullaby of Broadway, 42nd St) Mitchell Parish (Stardust, Sophisticated Lady, Deep Purple) and a handful of others decided to see what they could do for the old Czech Master.

Dvorak and Co. Jerry Castillo, William Nameiw and Howard Johnson

Dvorak & Company: Jerry Castillo, William Nameiw and Howard Johnson

‘Humoresque’…It’s like life son, that piece. Crying to hide it’s laughing and laughing to hide it’s crying.” (Fannie Hurst)

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 7.24.45 PM

Thank you to lyricists: Al Dubin, William Namiew, Howard Johnson, Jerry Castillo, Jimmy Shirl, Ervin Drake, Henry Manners, Carl Earle, Mitchell Parish and Stephen Foster.

And thank you to Ken Muir for playing the piano….








One Response

  1. Pistachia says:


Leave a Reply