Dana Suesse

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Dana Suesse
Birth name Nadine Dana Suesse
Born (1909-12-03)December 3, 1909
Origin Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Died October 16, 1987(1987-10-16) (aged 77)
New York, U.S.
Occupation(s) Composer, musician, lyricist
Instruments Piano

Nadine Dana Suesse (/ˈsws/; December 3, 1909 – October 16, 1987) was an American musician, composer and lyricist.

Biography[edit]

While still a child, Suesse toured the Midwest vaudeville circuits with an act centered on dancing and piano playing. During the recital, she would ask the audience for a theme, and then proceed to take that theme, weaving it into something of her own. In 1926, she and her mother moved to New York City.

Suesse began to create larger scale pieces from which she would extrapolate a phrase and then set that tune to words, collaborating with a lyricist. "My Silent Love" (which came from a larger piece called "Jazz Nocturne"), and "You Ought to Be in Pictures" are among her most well-known and popular hits. She collaborated with lyricist Eddie Heyman on "You Ought to Be in Pictures" in addition to other hits, including "Ho-Hum." The 1930s press called Suesse "the girl Gershwin." Fortune, a magazine then devoted to male achievement, included Dana's photo alongside eight other veterans of the music business, with the headline, "Nine Assets of a Prosperous Organization" (January 1933).

While in New York, Suesse studied piano under Alexander Siloti, Franz Liszt's last surviving pupil. She studied composition under Rubin Goldmark, one of George Gershwin's teachers, and spent three years studying with Nadia Boulanger after World War II. In 1931, bandleader Paul Whiteman (following Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue) commissioned her to write "Concerto in Three Rhythms." In early 1932, she recorded a piano roll of the Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal popular tune 'Was That The Human Thing To Do' for the Aeolian Company's Duo-Art reproducing piano system. Beginning in 1930, Suesse formed a song writing partnership with impresario Billy Rose (usually in collaboration with other lyricists) that lasted into the 1940s. In 1936 Suesse lived in Fort Worth, Texas for three months to compose the score for Rose's Casa Manaña, the spectacular outdoor dinner theatre of the Fort Worth (Texas) Frontier Centennial. With Rose and Irving Kahal she composed "The Night Is Young And You're So Beautiful," which won fifth place on Your Hit Parade on the broadcast of February 6, 1937, and stayed on the program for six weeks. The Jan Garber, George Hall and Wayne King orchestras all recorded it in 1937, and in 1951 Ray Anthony's orchestra made it a hit again. On June 13, 1937 Amon G. Carter arranged for Billy Rose and Suesse to attend a dinner at the White House as guests of President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. After dinner, music from Casa Manana was performed by one of the show's stars, Everett Marshall. Subsequently, many songs were written with Rose, including "Yours For A Song" (in collaboration with lyricist Ted Fetter), the theme of Billy Rose's Aquacade of the 1939 New York World's Fair. In the 1940s Suesse was Rose's staff composer for his legendary Diamond Horseshoe Revues. With lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg Suesse wrote "Moon About Town" (for Jane Froman in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1934) and "Missouri Misery," both published in 1934.

After her success in writing popular songs (other lyricists included Harold Adamson, Sam Coslow) Suesse moved to Paris for three years to privately study composition with Nadia Boulanger. Boulanger accepted Dana as a student on the recommendation of the great orchestrator, and Suesse's tennis partner, Robert Russell Bennett.

On December 11, 1974, Suesse and her husband produced a symphony concert at Carnegie Hall, devoted exclusively to her compositions. (In the 1990s, Robert Stern produced a CD of the concert using masters from Voice Of America.) On July 31, 1975, the Newport Music Festival (Rhode Island) presented four of her works in their concert series. A year after the Carnegie Hall concert, Suesse and her husband moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands. After her husband's death in 1981 she moved back to New York, the city where she had spent her most creative years. She took two apartments in the Gramercy Park Hotel and continued to write plays and songs for the theatre. Just before her death from a stroke on October 16, 1987, she was writing a new musical, putting the finishing touches on Mr. Sycamore, which had been optioned for off-Broadway, and was looking for a New York home for a straight play, Nemesis. On September 24, 2003, John McGlinn conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra (UK) in a performance of American music that included three compositions by Suesse.

  • Dana Suesse was the wife of Courtney Burr (July 26, 1940 - June 29, 1954). Their marriage ended in a divorce. She later married a businessman, Charles Edwin Delinks (April 16, 1971 until his death July 14, 1981).

Chronology[edit]

  • 1909 Born Kansas City, Mo. December 3
  • 1919 First solo concert, Kansas City, MO
  • 1926 Moves to New York City (December)
  • 1927 First copyrighted song: Razor Blade Blues (unpublished)
  • 1928 Syncopated Love Song (copyrighted July 2) performed on station KWK by Merle Johnston’s Saxophone Quartet
  • 1929 First publication: mood music for silent films; Nathaniel Shilkret records Syncopated Love Song (December 13)
  • 1930 Rehearsal pianist, Billy Rose's first revue Sweet And Low. Syncopated Love Song published
  • 1931 Staff composer at Famous Music; Jazz Nocturne becomes hit instrumental. Syncopated Love Song is made into song called Have You Forgotten. Ho-Hum and Whistling In the Dark popularized internationally
  • 1932 Jazz Nocturne is made into song called My Silent Love, Paul Whiteman concert at Carnegie Hall (Nov. 4) Concerto in Three Rhythms is introduced. In April, her piano roll recording of 'Was That The Human Thing To Do' is released as Duo-Art roll #0860.
  • 1933 Makes film appearance with Edward Heyman for Paramount, Astoria; Whiteman appearances: Madison Square Garden; Writes hit song for Ziegfeld Follies with Yip Harburg: Moon About Town
  • 1934 Vera Brodsky & Harold Triggs (duo-pianists) perform Suesse’s ballet music for Tamara Geva at Radio City Music Hall; Town Hall concert conducted by Bernard Herrmann; Brooklyn Academy with Whiteman; Boston Symphony Hall Arthur Fiedler; writes songs for Broadway play The Red Cat; Appears on George Gershwin's radio broadcast (October 28); Whiteman records Blue Moonlight for Victor; You Oughta Be In Pictures is published
  • 1935 Composes Sweet Surrender (Universal) film score; Performs with General Motors Symphony [Frank Black]; Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Nathaniel Shilkret at Robin Hood Dell, PA.
  • 1936 Billy Rose Casa Manana Texas Centennial Exposition, hit song The Night Is Young And You're So Beautiful
  • 1937 More Casa Manana; White House with President & Mrs. Roosevelt
  • 1938 More radio appearances, writes song interpolated in Cole Porter show, You Never Know, Etc.; Robbins publishes instrumentals
  • 1939 Composes suite for harpist Casper Reardon Young Man With a Harp; Philadelphia Orchestra performs harp suite with Reardon (July 19)
  • 1940 Makes records for Schirmer records; Makes second visit to White House (March 4) with harpist Casper Reardon
  • 1942 Composes and orchestrates 2-piano concerto; composes for Diamond Horseshoe Revue; Cocktail Suite; Meredith Willson recorded series includes American Nocturne
  • 1943 Composes and orchestrates Three Cities suite; writes plays with Virginia Faulkner; Concerto in E Minor- Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, duo-pianists Ethel Bartlett & Rae Robertson (known familiarly as "the Bartlett Pair")
  • 1944 More Diamond Horseshoe scores
  • 1946 Sells screenplay, It Takes Two, to RKO; Paul Whiteman introduces Night Sky (October 27) on broadcast
  • 1947 It Takes Two (comedy written with Virginia Faulkner) opens (February 3); Departs for France (October) to study composition with Nadia Boulanger
  • 1948: studies and composes concert music
  • 1950 Sails back to NY (October); Moves to 30 E. 60th St.
  • 1952 composes incidental music for Seven Year Itch; The Girl Without A Name published
  • 1953 Josephine (songs by Suesse) opens, Playhouse Theatre, Chicago
  • 1955 Concerto Romantico performed at Cooper Union, broadcast on radio
  • 1956 Concerto In Rhythm performed by Rochester Civic Orchestra (composer at piano), conducted by Frederick Fennell
  • 1957 Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concert- conducted by Josef Krips
  • 1959 Come Play With Me opens, York Playhouse, NY. with Tamara Geva, Liliane Montevecchi, Tom Poston (April 30); composes for play The Golden Fleecing
  • 1965 Nina Stevens (Dana's mother) dies
  • 1970 Moves to New London, CT
  • 1971 Marries C. Edwin Delinks
  • 1974 Carnegie Hall Concert, The Music of Dana Suesse (December 11)
  • 1975 Newport Music Festival concert; Sells Steinway to pianist Peter Mintun; Moves to Virgin Islands with husband
  • 1979 Mintun honors Suesse at testimonial dinner, San Francisco. Reunited final time with Edward Heyman (Sept. 10)
  • 1981 Husband dies of cancer [July]; Moves to New York (October 9)
  • 1982 This Time The Ladies (concert) Kool Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, produced by Sylvia Sims (July 3)
  • 1982 October 1 is proclaimed Dana Suesse Day, Kansas City (Mo.); Suesse accepts honors from Mayor Richard L. Berkley in person. Last visit to Missouri; Interview on WOR Radio Network(NY)
  • 1986 Appears at Wall-To-Wall American Song tribute, Symphony Space, NY
  • 1987 Suesse dies from stroke (October 16)
  • 1996 Two CDs are produced, devoted to the music of Suesse: “Keyboard Wizards of the Gershwin Era” (Pearl, UK) produced by Artis Wodehouse and “The Night Is Young – The Concert Music of Dana Suesse” (Premier) produced by Robert Stern.
  • 1998 Literary Executor Peter Mintun gives talk at Library of Congress for event "The Gershwins and Their World" (March).
  • 2003 BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by John McGlinn, performs Afternoon of a Black Faun [arranged by Bernie Mayer], "Moon About Town" [arranged by Hans Spialek, sung by Kim Criswell] and Serenade To A Skyscraper [arranged by the composer] (September 24)
  • 2005 Albany Symphony Orchestra Performs Concerto in Three Rhythms conducted by David Alan Miller, Kevin Cole, soloist (March 18).
  • 2008 Jazz Nocturne: The Collected Piano Music Of Dana Suesse played by Sara Davis Buechner, E1 Distribution, KAS Music & Sound (USA)
  • 2009 The Hot Springs Music Festival Symphony Orchestra performs Concerto in Three Rhythms (arranged in 1932 by Ferde Grofé for Paul Whiteman Orchestra, conducted by Richard Rosenberg; Michael Gurt, piano soloist (June 3). Festival Orchestra records Suesse's Jazz Nocturne (arranged by Carroll Huxley for Paul Whiteman Orchestra) and Concerto in Three Rhythms for Naxos Records (2010 release).
  • 2011 On the Sono Luminus CD (DSL 92129), Suesse’s Concerto in E Minor for Two Pianos & Orchestra (1943) is performed by Beatrice Long & Christina Long, duo-pianists, with the Eskisehir [Turkey] Greater Municipality Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Patrick Souillot. This concerto was introduced by pianists Ethel Bartlett & Rae Robertson with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conducted by Eugene Aynsley Goossens.
  • 2013 Dana Suesse - The Girl Gershwin, concert by Tony Caramia, piano, Hatch Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music (March 26)

Principal works[edit]

  • "Jazz Nocturne" for piano and orchestra (1931 ; orchestrated by Carroll Huxley)
  • "Concerto in Three Rhythms" for piano and orchestra (1932 ; orchestrated with Ferde Grofé)[1]
  • "Symphonic Waltzes" for piano and orchestra (1933)
  • "Concerto for two pianos and orchestra" in E minor (1934–1941)[2]
  • "Concerto romantico" for piano and orchestra in A major (1946)
  • "Jazz Concerto in D major" for Combo and Orchestra (1955 ; orig. titled "Concerto in Rhythm")[3]

References[edit]

External links[edit]