"Send In the Clowns" is a song written by Stephen Sondheim for the 1973 musical A Little Night Music , an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's film Smiles of a Summer Night . It is a ballad from Act Two, in which the character Desirée reflects on the ironies and disappointments of her life. Among other things, she looks back on an affair years earlier with the lawyer Fredrik, who was deeply in love with her but whose marriage proposals she had rejected. Meeting him after so long, she realizes she is in love with him and finally ready to marry him, but now it is he who rejects her: he is in an unconsummated marriage with a much younger woman. Desirée proposes marriage to rescue him from this situation, but he declines, citing his dedication to his bride. Reacting to his rejection, Desirée sings this song. The song is later reprised as a coda after Fredrik's young wife runs away with his son, and Fredrik is finally free to accept Desirée's offer.
A song is a musical composition intended to be sung by the human voice. This is often done at distinct and fixed pitches using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various forms, such as those including the repetition of sections. Through semantic widening, a broader sense of the word "song" may refer to instrumentals.
Stephen Joshua Sondheim is an American composer and lyricist known for more than a half-century of contributions to musical theatre. Sondheim has received an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Laurence Olivier Award, and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has been described by Frank Rich of The New York Times as "now the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theater". His best-known works as composer and lyricist include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Into the Woods (1987), Assassins (1990), and Passion (1994). He also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), and Do I Hear a Waltz? (1965).
A Little Night Music is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. Inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night, it involves the romantic lives of several couples. Its title is a literal English translation of the German name for Mozart's Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major, Eine kleine Nachtmusik. The musical includes the popular song "Send In the Clowns".
Sondheim wrote the song specifically for Glynis Johns, who created the role of Desirée on Broadway. The song is structured with four verses and a bridge, and uses a complex compound meter. It became Sondheim's most popular song after Frank Sinatra recorded it in 1973 and Judy Collins' version charted in 1975 and 1977. Subsequently, numerous other artists recorded the song, and it has become a jazz standard.
Glynis Johns is a retired Welsh stage, television and film actress, dancer, pianist, and singer. Born in Pretoria, South Africa while her parents were on tour, she is best known for creating the role of Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music on Broadway, for which she won a Tony Award, and for playing Winifred Banks in Walt Disney's musical motion picture Mary Poppins. In both roles, she sang songs written specifically for her, including "Send In the Clowns", composed by Stephen Sondheim, and "Sister Suffragette", written by the Sherman Brothers. She was nominated for an Oscar for her work in the 1960 film The Sundowners. She is known for the breathy quality of her husky voice and her upbeat persona.
Broadway theatre, also known simply as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.
Francis Albert Sinatra was an American singer, actor and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.
The "clowns" in the title do not refer to circus clowns. Instead, they symbolize fools, as Sondheim explained in a 1990 interview:
I get a lot of letters over the years asking what the title means and what the song's about; I never thought it would be in any way esoteric. I wanted to use theatrical imagery in the song, because she's an actress, but it's not supposed to be a circus [...] [I]t's a theater reference meaning "if the show isn't going well, let's send in the clowns"; in other words, "let's do the jokes." I always want to know, when I'm writing a song, what the end is going to be, so "Send in the Clowns" didn't settle in until I got the notion, "Don't bother, they're here", which means that "We are the fools."
In a 2008 interview, Sondheim further clarified:
As I think of it now, the song could have been called "Send in the Fools". I knew I was writing a song in which Desirée is saying, "aren't we foolish" or "aren't we fools?" Well, a synonym for fools is clowns, but "Send in the Fools" doesn't have the same ring to it.
Judi Dench, who performed the role of Desirée in London, commented on the context of the song during an interview with Alan Titchmarsh. The play is "a dark play about people who, at the beginning, are with wrong partners and in the end it is hopefully going to become right, and she (Desirée) mistimes her life in a way and realizes when she re-meets the man she had an affair with and had a child by (though he does not know that), that she loves him and he is the man she wants."
Dame Judith Olivia Dench is an English actress. Dench made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company. Over the following few years, she performed in several of Shakespeare's plays, in such roles as Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. Although most of her work during this period was in theatre, she also branched into film work and won a BAFTA Award as Most Promising Newcomer. She drew strong reviews for her leading role in the musical Cabaret in 1968.
Alan Fred Titchmarsh,, HonFSE is an English gardener, broadcaster, poet, and novelist. After working as a professional gardener and a gardening journalist, he established himself as a media personality through appearances on gardening programmes. He has developed a diverse writing and broadcasting career.
Some years before the play begins, Desirée was a young, attractive actress, whose passions were the theater and romance. She lived her life dramatically, flitting from man to man. Fredrik was one of her many lovers and fell deeply in love with Desirée, but she declined to marry him. The play implies that when they parted Desirée may have been pregnant with his child.
A few months before the play begins, Fredrik married a beautiful young woman who at 18 years old was much younger than he. In Act One, Fredrik meets Desirée again, and is introduced to her daughter, a precocious adolescent suggestively named Fredrika. Fredrik explains to Desirée that he is now married to a young woman he loves very much, but that she is still a virgin, continuing to refuse to have sex with him. Desirée and Fredrik then make love.
Act Two begins days later, and Desirée realizes that she truly loves Fredrik. She tells Fredrik that he needs to be rescued from his marriage, and she proposes to him. Fredrik explains to Desirée that he has been swept off the ground and is "in the air" in love with his beautiful, young wife, and apologizes for having misled her. Desirée remains sitting on the bed; depending on the production, Fredrik walks across the room or stays seated on the bed next to her. Desirée – feeling both intense sadness and anger, at herself, her life and her choices – sings "Send in the Clowns". She is, in effect, using the song "to cover over a moment when something has gone wrong on stage. Midway through the second Act she has deviated from her usual script by suggesting to Fredrik the possibility of being together seriously and permanently, and, having been rejected, she falters as a show-person, finds herself bereft of the capacity to improvise and wittily cover. If Desirée could perform at this moment – revert to the innuendos, one-liners and blithe self-referential humour that constitutes her normal character – all would be well. She cannot, and what follows is an exemplary manifestation of Sondheim’s musico-dramatic complexity, his inclination to write music that performs drama. That is, what needs to be covered over (by the clowns sung about in the song) is the very intensity, ragged emotion and utter vulnerability that comes forward through the music and singing itself, a display protracted to six minutes, wrought with exposed silences, a shocked Fredrik sitting so uncomfortably before Desirée while something much too real emerges in a realm where he – and his audience – felt assured of performance."
Not long thereafter, Fredrik's young wife runs away with his son, so he is free to accept Desirée's proposal, and the song is reprised as a coda.
Sondheim wrote the lyrics and music over a two-day period during rehearsals for the play's Broadway debut,specifically for the actress Glynis Johns, who created the role of Desirée. According to Sondheim, "Glynis had a lovely, crystal voice, but sustaining notes was not her thing. I wanted to write short phrases, so I wrote a song full of questions" and the song's melody is within a small music range:
The lyrics of the song are written in four verses and a bridge and sung by Desirée. As Sondheim explains, Desirée experiences both deep regret and furious anger:
"Send in the Clowns" was never meant to be a soaring ballad; it's a song of regret. And it's a song of a lady who is too upset and too angry to speak– meaning to sing for a very long time. She is furious, but she doesn't want to make a scene in front of Fredrik because she recognizes that his obsession with his 18-year-old wife is unbreakable. So she gives up; so it's a song of regret and anger, and therefore fits in with short-breathed phrases.
The song was originally performed in the key of D flat major. [ better source needed ]
The song uses an unusual and complex meter, which alternates between 12/8 and 9/8.These are two complex compound meters that evoke the sense of a waltz used throughout the score of the show. Sondheim tells the story:
"Send in the Clowns" is performed in two completely different styles: dramatic and lyric. The dramatic style is the theatrical performance by Desirée, and this style emphasizes Desirée's feelings of anger and regret, and the dramatic style acts as a cohesive part of the play. The lyric style is the concert performance, and this style emphasizes the sweetness of the melody and the poetry of the lyrics. Most performances are in concert, so they emphasize the beauty of the melody and lyrics.
Sondheim teaches both dramatic and lyric performers several important elements for an accurate rendition:
The dramatic performer must take on the character of Desirée: a woman who finally realizes that she has misspent her youth on the shallow life. She is both angry and sad, and both must be seen in the performance. Two important examples are the contrast between the lines, "Quick, send in the clowns" and "Well, maybe next year." Sondheim teaches that the former should be steeped in self-loathing, while the latter should emphasize regret.Thus, the former is clipped, with a break between "quick" and "send," while the latter "well" is held pensively.
Sondheim himself apologizes for flaws in his composition. For example, in the line, "Well, maybe next year," the melodic emphasis is on the word year but the dramatic emphasis must be on the word next:
The word "next" is important: "Maybe next year" as opposed to "this year". [Desirée means,] "All right, I've screwed it up this year. Maybe next year I'll do something right in my life." So [it's] "well, maybe next year" even though it isn't accented in the music. This is a place where the lyric and the music aren't as apposite as they might be, because the important word is "next", and yet the accented word is "year". That's my fault, but [something the performer must] overcome.
Another example arises from Sondheim's roots as a speaker of American rather than British English: The line "Don't you love farce?" features two juxtaposed labiodental fricative sounds (the former [v] voiced, the latter [f] devoiced). American concert and stage performers will often fail to "breathe" and/or "voice" between the two fricatives, leading audiences familiar with British slang to hear "Don't you love arse?", misinterpreting the lyric or at the least perceiving an unintended double entendre. Sondheim agrees that "[i]t's an awkward moment in the lyric, but that v and that f should be separated."
In the line of the fourth verse, "I thought that you'd want what I want. Sorry, my dear," the performer must communicate the connection between the "want" and the "sorry".Similarly, Sondheim insists that performers separately enunciate the adjacent t's in the line, "There ought to be clowns."
The musical and the song debuted on Broadway in 1973. The song became popular with theater audiences but had not become a pop hit. Sondheim explained how the song became a hit:
First of all, it wasn't a hit for two years. I mean, the first person to sing it was Bobby Short, who happened to see the show in Boston, and it was exactly his kind of song: He's a cabaret entertainer. And then my memory is that Judy Collins picked it up, but she recorded it in England; Sinatra heard it and recorded it. And between the two of them, they made it a hit.
Frank Sinatra recorded "Send in the Clowns" in 1973 for his album Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back , which attained gold status. Gordon Jenkins arranged the song. It was also released as a single.
Two years later Judy Collins recorded "Send in the Clowns" for her album Judith .The song was released as a single, which soon became a major pop hit. It remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for 11 weeks in 1975, reaching Number 36. The single again reached the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977, where it remained for 16 weeks and reached Number 19. At the Grammy Awards of 1976, the Collins performance of the song was named Song of the Year. After Sinatra and Collins recorded the song, it was recorded by Bing Crosby, Kenny Rogers, and Lou Rawls.
In 1985, Sondheim added a verse for Barbra Streisand to use on The Broadway Album and subsequent concert performances.Her version reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary chart in 1986.
The song has become a jazz standard, with performances by Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, the Stan Kenton Orchestra and many others. It has been recorded by more than 900 singers.
|Canada RPM Adult Contemporary||19|
|US Billboard Adult Contemporary||18|
|Canada RPM Adult Contemporary||2|
|US Billboard Adult Contemporary||25|
Barbara Joan "Barbra" Streisand is an American singer, actress, and filmmaker. In a career spanning six decades, she has achieved success in multiple fields of entertainment and has been recognized with two Academy Awards, ten Grammy Awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award, five Emmy Awards including one Daytime Emmy, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, four Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and nine Golden Globes. She is among a small group of entertainers who have been honored with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award – though only three were competitive awards – and is one of only two artists in that group who have also won a Peabody.
Judith Marjorie Collins is an American singer and songwriter known for her eclectic tastes in the material she records and for her social activism.
Funny Lady is a 1975 American biographical musical comedy-drama film directed by Herbert Ross and starring Barbra Streisand, James Caan, Omar Sharif, Roddy McDowall and Ben Vereen.
"Evergreen" is the theme song from the 1976 film A Star Is Born. It was composed and performed by Barbra Streisand with lyrics by Paul Williams, and arranged by Ian Freebairn-Smith. The song was released on the soundtrack album to A Star Is Born.
Barbra Streisand is an American actress, singer-songwriter, and author. Her discography consists of 117 singles, 36 studio albums, and 9 compilations, 7 live albums and 15 soundtracks. She is one of the best-selling female music artist of all time, with more than 68.5 million albums in the United States and with a total of 145 million records sold worldwide, making her the best-selling female artist among the top-selling artists recognized by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The Movie Album is the thirtieth studio album by American singer Barbra Streisand, released on October 14, 2003, by Columbia Records. Overall her sixtieth release with her record label, it was executively produced by Streisand and her manager, Jay Landers. A concept album, it contains twelve songs from the singer's favorite films ranging in release from 1935 to 1988. While curating the album, Streisand was inspired by her marriage to actor James Brolin to record songs about love and relationships. To better fit her needs, songwriting duo Alan and Marilyn Bergman were commissioned to add lyrics to several of the songs Streisand had chosen to record.
"Woman in Love" is a song performed by Barbra Streisand and taken from her 1980 album, Guilty. The song was written by Barry and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, who received the 1980 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. It is her fourth of four Platinum records, and is considered her greatest international hit.
Live in Concert 2006 is a live album by Barbra Streisand which was recorded during her record setting 2006 US tour known as Streisand: The Tour. The double album contains songs recorded at different shows and venues including New York City's Madison Square Garden and Washington, D.C.'s Verizon Center. Three songs Streisand performed live on the tour with Il Divo are featured on the album.
Timeless: Live in Concert is a live album released by Barbra Streisand on September 19, 2000. It was her fifth live album and was released on Columbia Records. The album was issued a week before what were said to be her final concerts in September 2000 and would reach platinum certification.
The Broadway Album is the twenty-fourth studio album by director, composer, actress and singer Barbra Streisand, released by Columbia Records on November 5, 1985. Consisting mainly of classic show tunes, the album marked a major shift in Streisand's career. She had spent ten years appearing in musicals and singing standards on her albums in the 1960s. Beginning with the album Stoney End in 1971 and ending with the album Emotion in 1984, Streisand sang mostly rock, pop, folk, and disco-oriented songs for Columbia records. Noted Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim personally penned additional lyrics for the songs "Putting It Together" and "Send in the Clowns" on request of the singer. The album, originally released on the Columbia label and subsequently re-released by Columbia and Sony Records, was a critical and commercial success. First certified gold by the RIAA on January 13, 1986, it reached four times platinum on January 31, 1995.
Lazy Afternoon is a studio album recorded by American singer Barbra Streisand. It was released on October 14, 1975 by Columbia Records. After releasing the Funny Lady soundtrack earlier in 1975, the singer began working with new musicians for the project following the mediocre critical response generated from her previous studio album, ButterFly (1974). Recorded in April 1975 in Los Angeles, Lazy Afternoon contains pop standards. Producer Rupert Holmes wrote four songs on the album, and Streisand received her first songwriting credit for the song "By the Way". She also included a few cover songs, such as Four Tops' "Shake Me, Wake Me ", Stevie Wonder's "You and I", and Libby Holman's "Moanin' Low".
One Voice is the third live album released by Barbra Streisand. The album was recorded at a benefit concert at Streisand's Malibu, California home on September 6, 1986 and released in April 1987. It has been certified Platinum in the United States and New Zealand for sales of 2,000,000 and 15,000 copies. According to the liner notes of Barbra's retrospective box set: Just for the Record, the album also received a record certification in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
ButterFly is the sixteenth studio album by American singer Barbra Streisand. It was released on October 1, 1974 by Columbia Records. After releasing The Way We Were earlier in 1974, a collection predominantly consisting of previously released songs, Streisand recorded her first album of entirely new material in over three years. Recorded throughout 1974 and primarily a contemporary pop record, it also incorporates music from the reggae and R&B genres. All of the tracks on ButterFly are cover songs produced by Streisand's then-boyfriend Jon Peters, originating from artists like Bob Marley, David Bowie, Evie Sands, and Graham Nash.
"Second Hand Rose" is a 1921 popular song written by Grant Clarke and James F. Hanley for Fanny Brice.
"All in Love Is Fair" is a song by American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder recorded for his sixteenth studio album, Innervisions (1973). Written and produced by Wonder, it was released as a 7" single in Brazil in 1974. The song is a pop ballad with lyrics that describe the end of a relationship through the use of clichés. Critical reaction to the song was varied: Matthew Greenwald of AllMusic wrote that it was among Wonder's "finest ballad statements", but Robert Christgau felt that the singer's performance was "immature". Wonder has included it on several of his greatest hits albums, including the most recent, 2005's The Complete Stevie Wonder.
"My Father's Song" is a song recorded by American singer Barbra Streisand for her seventeenth studio album, Lazy Afternoon (1975). It was released as a 7" single in August 1975 through Columbia Records. Rupert Holmes wrote the song in collaboration with its producer Jeffrey Lesser. A sentimental ballad, "My Father's Song" was about Streisand's childhood with her father; Holmes' lyrics involve a protagonist, presumably a daughter, asking for her father's approval in life and love.
"How Lucky Can You Get" is a song recorded by American vocalist Barbra Streisand for the official soundtrack to the 1975 film Funny Lady. It was released as a 7" single in April 1975 through Arista Records. The song was written by Fred Ebb and John Kander, while production was handled by Peter Matz. "How Lucky Can You Get" is one of the new songs on the soundtrack, with its origins coming from Fanny Brice, the character Streisand portrays in the aforementioned film. The music pertains to Brice herself, particularly the sarcastic nature of the lyrics that are accompanied by an "insistent" melody and production. It was suggested that the pattern of the lyrics may have been influenced by Giacomo Puccini's 1896 opera, La bohème.
"We're Not Makin' Love Anymore" is a song recorded by American singer Barbra Streisand for her fourth greatest hits album, A Collection: Greatest Hits...and More (1989). It was released on September 14, 1989 by Columbia Records on 7", 12", cassette, and CD. It was written by Michael Bolton and Diane Warren and produced by Narada Michael Walden. Bolton's inspiration for the song was derived from his divorce; he and Warren debated what singer would be able to sing their work well and ultimately decided that Streisand would be the right fit. The song is a ballad that is similar in sound to Streisand's "Comin' In and Out of Your Life" (1981).
Funny Lady is a soundtrack album by American vocalist Barbra Streisand. It was released by Arista Records on March 15, 1975 to promote the 1975 American musical comedy-drama film Funny Lady. Executively produced by Peter Matz, the fifteen tracks on the album were performed by Streisand, James Caan, and Ben Vereen. A soundtrack sequel to 1968's Funny Girl, Funny Lady is a collection of songs from the point of view of American performer Fanny Brice. "How Lucky Can You Get", the album's only single released in April 1975, promoted the record and was written by Fred Ebb and John Kander, who also co-wrote the majority of the songs on Funny Lady.