Swanee by George Gershwin for Woodwind Quintet
Arranged by Jari Villanueva
Horn in F
Score and parts downloaded upon payment
Swanee was George Gershwin’s first big song hit written in 1919. The song was written for a New York City revue called Demi-Tasse, which opened in October 1919 in the Capitol Theater. Caesar and Gershwin, who was then aged 20, claimed to have written the song in about ten minutes riding on a bus in Manhattan, finishing it at Gershwin's apartment. It was written partly as a parody of Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home".
It was originally used as a big production number, with 60 chorus girls dancing with electric lights in their slippers on an otherwise darkened stage. The song had little impact in its first show, but not long afterwards Gershwin played it at a party where Al Jolson heard it. Jolson then put it into his show Sinbad, already a success at the Winter Garden Theatre, and recorded it for Columbia Records in January 1920. "After that", said Gershwin, "Swanee penetrated the four corners of the earth."
The song was charted in 1920 for 18 weeks holding the No. 1 position for nine. It sold a million sheet music copies, and an estimated two million records. It became Gershwin's first hit and the biggest-selling song of his career; the money he earned from it allowed him to concentrate on theatre work and films rather than writing further single pop hits.