Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Milkmaid Song

Toward the end of their first-draft version of the Wizard of Oz musical, L. Frank Baum and Paul Tietjens have made both the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman kings—of the Emerald City and the Country of the Munchkins, respectively.
GLINDA: Well, everything seems to be turning out splendidly. (To Dorothy) You ought to be proud to have two kings with you.

DOROTHY: They're all right to draw to, but I wouldn't bet much on this pair. I'm not proud. I don't want to be a queen.

Dorothy then performs "The Milkmaid Song," an up-beat number about how she would rather spend her life back on the Kansas farm as a dairymaid, "a farm-yard dignitary."

This is the first time Baum has suggested in script or song that the Kansas farm is a dairy farm. The song predates the introduction of Dorothy's pet heifer, Imogene, as well—Dorothy won't get a pet cow until draft three.

I am delighted to share the first presentation of the original 1901 "Milkmaid Song" in well over a hundred years. But before you listen to it I must share some backstory.

Back in the late 1990s, James Patrick Doyle and I were collaborating on a restoration of the 1903 Wizard of Oz musical. We were not trying to restore it to a particularly "authentic" version, but rather a "best of all possible worlds" version that represented Baum's and Tietjens's desires, included all of their surviving music (including the cut Act 2, Scene 1 from Chicago), and a tasty new Finale that truly tied up all of the loose ends.

One song we particularly wanted to restore was "The Milkmaid Song." Baum had obviously liked his lyric, as he included it in his anthology Baum's Juvenile Speaker (1910), later reissued as Baum's Own Book For Children (1912). But we did not have any music for the lyric. We began looking through the score to see if any of Tietjens's music fit Baum's words. We quickly realized we could sing the chorus to the latter half of the "Winter Jubilation" music from the Act I Finale. Then James found that with a subtle change to the value of a note or two, and a shift from waltz time to common time, the "Happy Maidens" melody from the Act II finale fit the verse of the "Milkmaid" quite nicely.

We were so pleased with our efforts we published the song as sheet music and released an mp3 file James had made. James Patrick Doyle died suddenly in January 2002, and our original plans for restoring the show were ended.

But now, to jump nearly two decades forward, when I finally got access to Baum's original 1901 manuscript I found a marvelous note in Baum's own hand next to the typed lyrics for "The Milkmaid Song": "This song put into 1st act scene 3 . . ." This meant James's and my deduction that the chorus of "Milkmaid" scanned to the second half of the "Winter Jubilation" melody had been accurate.

What we had failed to realize back then was that the entire song fit the full "Winter Jubilation" melody. But without Baum's handwritten clue, this fit had been easy to miss. "Winter Jubilation" wants to be played at a fairly quick tempo, and the music was probably slightly tweaked for its reuse as the Sleigh-bell dominated frolic for the snow sprites. But a careful listen reveals the fit—and so we have another of Baum and Tietjens's songs from the 1901 first draft that survives.

Please listen to Baum and Tietjens's original version first [VIDEO ABOVE]. The music is from Tietjens's piano score for the Finale of Act I. There are a few spots where the lyrics sit oddly on the tune, but stilted lyrics seem a specialty of Baum's.

Then listen to James's and my recreation of the song from 2000 [VIDEO BELOW]—in a performance of the song at OzCon 2016. This version contains a singer, too. Note that James Patrick Doyle "improved" Baum's lyrics in a few spots. The singer is singing James's revised lyric—the captions reflect Baum's original text.

I will be discussing the placement of this song, the evolution of the cow, and the introduction of Imogene in future posts.

Copyright © 2020 David Maxine. All rights reserved.

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