Leonard Bernstein '39 and Alan Jay Lerner '40 have collaborated on two pieces called "Songs for Harvard," which will be premiered at the joint Band-Glee Club Carnegie Hall concert this Saturday.
The first, entitled "Dedication," is a chorale; the other, "Lonely Men of Harvard," is termed by its authors a "lament-march." G. Wright Briggs Jr. '31, director of the Harvard Band, said that "Dedication" represented Bernstein in a musically elevated mood, whereas the other piece was "typically Broadway."
Briggs described "Dedication" as a serious piece, "almost liturgical." Lerner's lyrics reflect this mood:
Where a wilderness had stood
Where no page of time had turned
Harvard rose that men might know
The works of God, the works of God.
The lament and march parts of "Lonely Men of Harvard" seem completely different at first glance, Briggs commented. He explained that their musically different moods were unified by Lerner's "tongue-in-cheek" lyrics, which gave the whole piece a whimsical cast. The verses in both parts emphasize Harvard's superiority:
Lonely, lonely men of Harvard
Set apart from all the rest.
Isolated men of Harvard,
All because we are the best.
The best, the very best,
We are indubitably the best.
The lyrics of the March continue the theme of isolation:
And that's the curse we share;
It's the Cross we've got to bear
For our indubitable, irrefutable, indomitable, incalculable superiority!
Briggs did not think that the March could be used as a football song because of the lyrics. He conceded that the words "had a little bit of Tom Lehrer in them," and might possibly be used by other Ivy League bands to serenade Harvard.