BERLIN, Irving – PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ (Jazz Easy Swing) – for FOUR Cello Soloists (or larger ensemble)


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PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ (Jazz Easy Swing) – Irving BERLIN

prepared for FOUR Cello Soloists by DAVID JOHNSTONE
Also possible with Larger Cello Ensemble or Cello Orchestra


PDF 1 – All Individual Cello Parts
(No general score)


EXAMPLE from Cello 1:


“Puttin’ On the Ritz” is a song written by Irving Berlin. He wrote it in May 1927 and it was first published at the end of 1929. It was then almost immediately introduced as a chorus in the musical film of the same name (1930). The title derives from the slang expression “to put on the Ritz”, which then meant to dress very fashionably, unashamedly inspired by the famous Ritz Hotel in London.

In some ways it was ground-breaking – according to ‘The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin’, this was the first song in film ever to be sung by an interracial ensemble.

The song received renewed popularity in 1982 when Taco, a Dutch musician, recorded and released a new version of the song. In its original period of popularity of 1929–1930 and staying in vogue during the 1930s it was recorded by Harry Richman and by Fred Astaire.

The cello ensemble version by David Johnstone uses a quartet of parts ‘vocally’; often moving together in a choral manner (therefore no general score, but bar numbers are shown for rehearsing). Having said that, the fourth part often tends to go a bit separately as if a bassist (more experienced players might try a bit more ‘walking bass’!). It is conceived as ‘easy swing’, therefore two eighth notes get more-or-less converted into triplets (66/33). On a technical level this may be classed as ‘medium’ level for cellists; true the first part uses thumb position but it should not present too many problems, but all other parts are far more comfortable. One just needs to get a good rhythmic feel to bring out the best of the piece in this cello arrangement!



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