Thursday, June 23, 2016

How a piece of music evolved

During my youth the song Rocking Red Wing (1960) was a big hit. Much later I encountered the original, titled Happy Farmer (1830), when my children learned it in their Suzuki violin classes. Finally I encountered Red Wing (1911) in a collection of old sheet music.

I was pleased to see my family name among the credits: the 1911 lyrics are by Thurland Chattaway. This is the only connection I'm aware of (a tenuous one, to be sure) between my clan and the composer Robert Schumann.

One distressing fact of life is that Sammy Masters didn't acknowledge that he got the tune from Kerry Mills, and Kerry Mills didn't acknowledge that he got it from Robert Schumann. It makes me wonder if Robert Schumann got it from someone before him!

The Happy Farmer
by Robert Schumann

Red Wing
Lyrics by Thurland Chattaway
Music adapted by Kerry Mills from Schumann's "Happy Farmer"

Rocking Red Wing
Lyrics adapted by Sammy Masters from "Red Wing" by Thurland Chattaway
Music adapted from Kerry Mills' adaptation of Schumann's "Happy Farmer"