“has more safft and schmalz than anything I have heard in two years.”*

*Richard Leo (Dick) Simon, on Fred Astaire’s recording of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”, a 1937 popular song with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It was introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film “Shall We Dance” and gained huge success.

From Merriam-Webster.com:

“Over the centuries, some women have been approvingly described as full-figured, shapely, womanly, curvy, curvaceous, voluptuous, and statuesque. Such women are, in a word, zaftig. Zaftig has been juicing up our language since the 1930s (the same decade that gave us Yiddish-derived futz, hoo-ha, and schmaltz, not to mention lox). It comes from the Yiddish zaftik, which means “juicy” or “succulent” and which in turn derives from zaft, meaning “juice” or “sap.” “

From Wikipedia:

  • “Schmaltz (also spelled schmalz or shmalz) is rendered (clarified) chicken or goose fat. It is an integral part of traditional Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine.
  • In American English, via Yiddish, schmaltz (adj. schmaltzy) also has an informal meaning of ‘excessively sentimental or florid music or art’ or ‘maudlin sentimentality’, similar to one of the uses of the words corn or corny. Its earliest use in this sense dates to the mid-1930s. In German, schmalzig also is used in the same sense.”

From: Noel Coward – a Biography (1995), by Philip Hoare:

“Even in adult life, Coward’s piano-playing was limited to three keys: E flat, B flat and A flat. ‘The sight of two sharps frightens me to death’, he confessed, and recalled that ‘dear George Gershwin used to moan…and try to force my fingers on to the right notes’.”

Israel Shenker wrote in the New York Times of Sept. 26, 1973:

“…Earlier, in City Hall’s Blue Room, Mayor Lindsay awarded the Handel Medallion, the city’s highest cultural decoration, to the Gershwins, Ira, who is in Los Angeles, and George (1898-1937), who is every place that people delight in songs like “The Man I Love,” “Embraceable You,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Summertime” and “Love Walked In.”

Daily the tunes sound in the Hallmark Gallery, Fifth Avenue and 56th Street, where visitors can look as well as listen—at letters and photographs and sheet music. Noel Coward’s note to George Gershwin is there: “I sit down to listen to it [Rhapsody in Blue] a normal healthy Englishman and by the time the second half is over I could fling myself into the wildest excesses of emotional degeneracy.”…”

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