New Books in the Arts & Sciences

Celebrating Recent Work by Walter Frisch

Monday, November 13, 2017  6:15pm The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room


Free and open to the public

No registration necessary

First come, first seated


The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities

Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences in the Humanities

New Books in the Arts & Sciences
         —panel discussions celebrating recent work by the Columbia Faculty

Arlen and Harburg's Over The Rainbow
by Walter Frisch

"Over the Rainbow" exploded into worldwide fame upon its performance by Judy Garland in the MGM film musical The Wizard of Oz (1939). Voted the greatest song of the twentieth century in a 2000 survey, it is a masterful, delicate balance of sophistication and child-like simplicity in which composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E. Y. "Yip" Harburg poignantly captured the hope and anxiety harbored by Dorothy's character. 

In Arlen and Harburg's Over the Rainbow, author Walter Frisch traces the history of this song from its inception during the development of The Wizard of Oz's screenplay, to its various reinterpretations over the course of the twentieth century. Through analysis of the song's music and lyrics, this Oxford Keynotes volume provides a close reading of the piece while examining the evolution of its meaning as it traversed widely varying cultural contexts. From its adoption as a jazz standard by generations of pianists, to its contribution to Judy Garland's role as a gay icon, to its reemergence as a chart-topping recording by Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Over the Rainbow" continues to engage audiences and performers alike in surprising ways. Featuring a companion website with audio and video supplements, this book leaves no path unexplored as it succeeds in capturing the extent of this song's impact on the world.


  • Author

    Walter Frisch

    H. Harold Gumm/Harry and Albert von Tilzer Professor of Music

    Columbia University

  • Discussant

    Kevin Fellezs

    Assistant Professor of Music, IRAAS/Ethnomusicology

    Columbia University

  • Discussant

    David Hajdu

    Professor of Journalism

    Columbia University

  • Discussant

    Will Friedwald

    Author and Journalist

  • Panel Chair

    Elaine Sisman

    Anne Parsons Bender Professor of Music

    Columbia University


By Semester