“Tomorrow’s Overture is Always Best”: The Music of Kay Swift
“Tomorrow’s overture is always best, no codas for me—I’m a no-stalgia gal.” —Kay Swift, 1975
Reflecting on her lack of "no-stalgia" at age 78, composer Kay Swift (1897–1993) aptly summarized a long and prolific career in music. In addition to being the first woman to compose the complete score of a successful Broadway musical (Fine and Dandy—1930), Swift wrote music for one of George Balanchine’s first American ballets (Alma Mater—1934), served as a staff composer at Radio City Music Hall, and continued to compose works for stage, screen, and concert hall through to her final New York performance in 1986 at age 89. Perhaps George Gershwin’s closest personal and professional companion during the last ten years of his life, Swift also made invaluable contributions to his legacy—arranging over fifty musical numbers from a combination of his sketchbooks and her own impeccable memory after his death in 1937. Through a combination of photographs, scores, programs, writings, and recordings, “Tomorrow’s Overture is Always Best”: The Music of Kay Swift will provide a glance into the unique breadth of Kay Swift’s career and her substantial contributions to the American musical canon.
Emma Hathaway TD ’17, Curator