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Jerome Kern is arguably the Father of the modern musical. How did he achieve this recognition?

Ol' Man River", "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", "A Fine Romance", "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", "All the Things You Are" and "The Way You Look Tonight", these are few of the many scores that Jerome Kern had enthralled the world with. His compositions were unique in their style and were immensely popular with the masses. The songs he created were simple but powerful and appealed to the populace as they spoke about the everyday life of ordinary people. He had to his credit around 700 songs, most of which became the tunes that America had on its lips. He brought alive the Broadway musicals to the audiences and also lend his compositions for many Hollywood films and to the jazz idiom. Kern was amazingly skilled at mixing his music with the essence of the dramatic situations and the lyrics for which he composed. Kern's melodies highlighted musicals that were moderately simple and ordinary compared with the lavishness of the extravaganzas that were being staged by the larger theatres

Jerome Kern was born on January 27, 1885 in New York to Fanny and Henry Kern, both first generation German Jews. Jerome exhibited a fondness for music from a very early age and hence Fanny Kern encouraged her son to pursue this interest. She made him take piano lessons despite the oppositions from his father. Henry Kern was a merchandiser and wanted the 16 years old Jerome to assist him in his works rather than go into a profession he considered disreputable. The goods he dealt with also included pianos among other items. Jerome's disinterest showed in the way the tasks undertaken by him suffered. Hence his father had to oblige into letting him follow his passion and study at the New York College of Music. Kern also studied at Heidelberg, Germany at around 1904 for a brief period of time.

The centennial of Kern's birth was celebrated in 1985 and a rediscovered recording of a radio production featuring the original cast received a Grammy Nomination as Best Cast Show Album. "All the Things You Are" has been recorded several times including a 1949 version by trumpeter Maynard Ferguson that enraged Eva Leale for its outrageousness and was withdrawn from sale. A US postage stamp was issued in his honour along with the release of more recordings and performances by him.

Jerome Kern's style evolved over the span of 40 years of his career showing greater sophistication with each song he composed. Kern's outstanding musical gifts and his decisive revolutionary styles that contrasted the prevalent idioms earned him recognition as the father of the modern musical. He played a pivotal role in promoting the ballad form, modernizing musical comedy to what we see today, and crafting the modern American operetta or musical play.

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