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The poet Fran Landesman has died | 30-Jul-11

The poet Fran Landesman died peacefully at home on 23rd July 2011.

Fran Landesman, described as 'the poet laureate of lovers and losers' and 'the jazz world's answer to Dorothy Parker', died peacefully at home on 23rd July 2011.  Born in New York on October 21, 1927, lyricist Fran Landesman began writing song lyrics in 1952. One of her best-known is 'Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most', her exploration of T. S. Eliot's 'April is the cruelest month...'; Crystal Palace's pianist Tommy Wolf set her lyrics to music.  Recordings of songs such as 'Spring Can Hang You Up The Most' and 'The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men' were made by Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Vaughan and Bette Midler.  In 1960, Landesman began composing with singer/pianist/composer Bob Dorough who had been brought to St. Louis by Tommy Wolf to play the lead in A Walk on the Wild Side. Their song 'Nothing Like You' was recorded by Miles Davis and included on his 1967 album Sorcerer. 'Small Day Tomorrow' has been recorded by many singers and was the title of Dorough's 2007 CD which featured 12 songs with Landesman lyrics.  In the 1970s, Fran Landesman began writing and publishing poetry. She published several volumes of poetry, as well as performing pieces at festivals and on BBC Radio. In the last 10 years of her life she performed more frequently, reciting her poetry, singing her songs and occasionally talking about her life and work. In 2003 she appeared in New York at Joe's Pub with Jackie Cain and Bob Dorough and in October 2008 returned to St Louis to do a one woman show at the Gaslight Theatre. Throughout 2010 and 2011 she made bi-monthly appearances at RADA for Farrago poetry and every six months hosted a lunchtime concert at The 606 Club in London.  In May 2010 the South Bank Centre presented 'A Night Out with Fran Landesman' at the Purcell Room and in April 2011 the Leicester Square Theatre presented 'An Evening with Fran Landesman' as part of the Art of Song Festival. Her last appearance was at RADA on July 21, 2011, two days before her death at the age of 83.

The Poetry Library has nine collections by Fran Landesman, including 'Scars and Stripes' (a book with a CD).

You may read a full obituary in the Telegraph and on the St. Louis website.

On Thursday 21 July Fran Landesman, only two days before her death on Saturday, 23rd July, was performing her last gig at one of Farrago Poetry's regular RADA Foyer Bar shows.  Towards the end of her life she became Farrago's resident poet.
In tribute to her, Farrago's next event, on Friday, 5th August at RADA Foyer Bar, will be: Fran Landesman - Celebration of a Life, a night of poetry, music & film, with performances by her son Miles Davis Landesman, song writing partner Simon Wallace & some very special guests from the worlds of poetry & jazz.

Fran Landesman - Celebration of a Life.
Friday, 5th August, 7pm
@ RADA Foyer Bar, Malet St, WC1. Nearest Tube: Goodge St.
A night of poetry, music & film celebrating the life of Fran Landesman.
Miles Davis Landesman, Simon Wallace, Sarah Moule, Fran Landesman, Michael Horovitz, Molly Parkin, Dudley Sutton, Abraham Gibson, Niall Spooner- Harvey. Kath Best & others to be confirmed!
A screening of 'Almost a legend', A short film by Mia Vuorio-Ringwald.
Hosted: John Paul O'Neill. Tickets: £6/£5.
Information: 07905078376. Farrago facebook page & group.Twitter page.

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