Gift to Yale Bands Recognizes Composer’s Centennial

An anonymous donor has made a generous monetary gift to the University's Yale Band Endowment, in recognition of the centennial year of the birth of Tin Pan Alley composer Rosamonde Safier, making it possible for members of the Yale Bands to have contact with the professional world, much as Rosamonde Safier did.

The Yale Band Rosamonde Safier Endowment will create a fund supporting contact, interaction, and projects between the Yale Bands and the professional world, including composers, artists, conductors, teachers, and scholars. The songs of Ms. Safier (1912-1992), mariée Marks, were performed by, among others, Rudy Vallée, the “first crooner” and the Elvis of his era, who was the 1927 Drum Major of the Yale Marching Band, and a member of the Class of 1928. 

Ms. Safier’s career was comprised of interactions with some of the greats of the music world of Tin Pan Alley. Born in Monessen, PA, in 1912, “Rody” Safier wrote twenty songs while still in high school, and played two of them for Helen Kane in the Stanley Theater. She wrote to George Gershwin, “People here at home think that I have talent. But I’m not sure whether it is big or small. If I ever come to New York, would you hear my songs and tell me the truth?” Gershwin wrote back, “Yes.”

After high school, she moved to New York City, where she attended the Institute for Musical Art (now known as the Juilliard School). During that time she contacted Gershwin, who invited her to his apartment for a “session,” and listened to her music for over an hour. One of the songs she played for him was ‘Blue Lady’, which he then played back to her. Before the year was out, just-turned-19-year-old Rosamonde’s ‘Blue Lady’ had been published by Harms and sung by Rudy Vallée on his live radio show, The Fleischmann Hour.

Also an accomplished pianist and accompanist, Ms. Safier performed her classical composition, Strange Fantasie, in Carnegie Hall in 1934. Her career culminated with her job as audition secretary at New York’s radio station, WOR.

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