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Water, Water, Everywhere
Commentary by: Nancy Kranzberg
Aired September 02, 2011


The human body is made up of 50 to 80% water and salt water oceans comprise 71% of the earth's surface and that doesn't even count all the fresh water lakes, rivers and glaciers that cover the land. No wonder we are thinking, talking and making music about water.

I was in a nostalgic mood and put on one of my old vinyl record albums. I chose an album entitled "Reflections on the Water" by The Platters, a very popular group from the 1950's onwards. All the songs were about water - "Slow Boat to China," "Sad River, "Up a Lazy River", etc, etc.

All of a sudden all kinds of melodies concerning rivers, oceans, tears popped into my head - "Tears on My Pillow", "Moon River", "How Deep is the Ocean", "The Ocean", "Yellow Submarine".

Then classical music with water themes came bubbling up from my brain, including Schubert's album,"Songs on the Theme of Water," and Handel's "Water Music Suites," whose origin always fascinated me. It premiered in 1717 after King George had requested a concert on the River Thames and was first performed on a barge.

Next children's songs came flowing out - "Rub a Dub Dub, Three Men in a Tub", "I Saw a Ship a Sailing", "It's Raining,It's Pouring”, "Rain,Rain Go Away".

Of course how many songs have been written about our mighty Mississippi and rivers all over the world such as "The Blue Danube Waltz?"

But water is also a theme in all the other art disciplines. Take for example the water gods of ancient Pre-Columbian Art, Tlaloc and Chac, who appear in frescoes and stone carvings galore.

Many well known artists paint seascapes such as John Marin and our own Peter Marcus, who does so in a more abstract manner. I recently saw an exhibition at the Kodner Gallery in Ladue entitled, "Our Great Waterways: The Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois Rivers"

The Delaware Valley Arts Alliance recently showed the works of Paul Serrano entitled, "Water:A Love and Hate Relationship". Serrano believes that water used as a symbol or as a physical manifestation of an emotional state is and important an intrinsic part of art."

Water sculptures are very popular everywhere as is water in its solid state. There are ice sculpture festivals all over the world and we often see ice sculptures at weddings and fancy benefits.

An internet article about water as a theme in literature mentions "The Odyssey and The Iliad”, epic Greek poems attributed to Homer in the seventh century BC.and goes on to talk about Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The article goes all the way to contemporary times and talks of Thoreau's "Walden, or a Life in the Woods" and Rachel Carson's "Under the Sea Wind” and "The Edge of the Sea".

Very recent books made into films are "Like Water For Chocolate" and “Water for Elephants." And speaking of films, "The Perfect Storm", "Orca”, and “Free Willy" all have water themes.

Water, water everywhere has really gotten to me. It's gotten to me so much that I've just signed up to go on a jazz cruise next winter.


(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Nancy Kranzberg

Nancy Kranzberg

Arts Aficionado Nancy Kranzberg has been involved in the arts community for some thirty years. She serves on numerous arts affiliated boards, including The St. Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park where she is the Co-Chair, The Sheldon Arts Foundation and the Sheldon Art Gallery Board, Jazz at the Bistro, The Missouri Mansion Preservation Inc., The Mid American Arts Alliance, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Nancy was named Women of Achievement and was awarded the Distinguished Alumnae Award at Washington University Nancy is a docent at the St. Louis Art Museum and is an honorary docent at Laumeier Sculpture Park. At age 60 she became a Jazz singer. She performs with the Second Half which features Chancellor Tom George on the piano.

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