was born in New York City, but grew up in Newark, New Jersey. Kern's father had been a successful local merchant in New Jersey. Showing an early talent for playing piano in his teens, the young "Jerry Kern" was given the job of "song plugger" for the New York music publisher "Lyceum Publishing Co." owned by Edward B. Marks. The shrewd young composer saw how his future in music needed to be tied into not only artistic success but commercial success as well. So shortly after modest public acclaim for a couple of songs of his that were published, he decided at the tender age of 18 to buy an ownership interest in a small but growing firm called "T. B. Harms" whose legendary president Max Dreyfus was to build Harms into a show business empire.
Kern's decision was shrewd, since Harms not only helped him reap more than a composers' share of profits. And also his early success attracted other young composers to Harms, which increased the value of his investment. It was what modern corporate types would call "a win-win formula." Max Dreyfus, while running T. B. Harms, picked a number of the most promising up-and-coming composers and convinced theatrical producers to hire them for Broadway Musicals, including Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Vincent Youmans and Artnur Schwartz. So the Harms stable grew.
Kern was primarily a composer of music as opposed to a wordsmith; he collaborated with several lyric writers hired for each show during his first decade as a Broadway composer, but often that lyricist was librettist P.G. Wodehouse. Beteween 1904 and 1914 (between the age of 18 to 28) -- Kern contributed many songs to over 45 different shows. To many theatre afficianado's, these were known as Kern's "Princess Theatre musicals" because all but one during this period were mounted at that relatively small Broadway venue.
Although the songs Kern turned out during this period were somewhat charming, they weren't the timeless standards he was known for later. Only a couple of these songs were heard much in the decades to follow, namely "Under The Linden Tree" from the 1906 musical "The Little Cherub", and the instrumental "Turkey Trot" for the 1911 show "Little Miss Fix-It."
In 1914, along with several prominent composers and songwriters, Kern became a charter member of the newly-founded performance rights organization known as ASCAP -- the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Although publishers collected "mechanical royalties" from the sales of sheet music and recordings, ASCAP collected royalties from the public performance of music. At first they collected these payments from Broadway theatrical producers. Later the source of income grew as collections were made from radio and TV stations and networks.
Kern wrote a couple more memorable songs beginning in 1914 with "They Didn't Believe Me" originally written for a show advertised as "The Girl From Utah -- the Acme of Musical Comedy" which closed in 4 months. The song was re-used a year later in the show "Tonight's The Night", which ran for 406 performances, and it became a hit.
Similarly he wrote the song "You Know and I Know" for a musical titled "A Girl Of Today" which closed during its pre-Broadway tryouts; and was re-cycled for the 1915 show "Nobody Home" that ran for 130 performances.
A charming lilting song called "Till The Clouds Roll By" was also a hit from the 1917 show "Oh, Boy!". And when MGM made a biographical film was of the life of Jerome Kern in 1946 starring Van Heflin and June Allyson, the film's theme song as well as its title was "Till The Clouds Roll By."
For the next twelve years Kern's continued to be hired for a string of pleasant projects which were entertaining, but never made musical history -- until the year 1927 when (at age 42) he was hired to write the score of a show featuring an all-black cast set on the Mississippi river, called "Show Boat." This was the score in which Kern made Broadway history and became a legend in the genre. For "Show Boat", Kern had written (with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, the 2nd) four songs that became classics -- "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", "Old Man River", "Why Do I Love You?" and the one that seemed to have the longest success -- "Make Believe".
The mature Kern was the source of several classic Broadway melodies after "Show Boat." They include "I've Told Ev'ry Little Star" and "The Song Is You" from the 1932 hit "Music In The Air"; "The Touch of Your Hand" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" from the 1933 musical "Roberta"; and "Lovely To Look At" written for the film version of "Roberta" made in 1935; "All The Things You Are" for a short-lived 1939 show "Very Warm For May".
Kern contributed songs to various Hollywood film musicals during the late 1930s and 1940s. Although a number were memorable hits as individual songs, he never again wrote a complete hit Broadway show. During his "Hollywood period", Kern's songs included "The Way You Look Tonight", "Pick Yourself Up" and "A Fine Romance" -- all written for the 1936 Fred Astaire film "Swing Time"; "The Folks Who Live On The Hill" for the 1937 film "High, Wide and Handsome"; and "The Last Time I Saw Paris" for the 1940 Ann Sothern vehicle "Lady, Be Good." The latter song won the1941 Academy Award. But despite winning an Oscar, the experience with the madness of Hollywood egos was not a happy one.
So Kern focused again on New York in 1945, planning to audition a Broadway revival of "Show Boat" and produce a new show with Oscar Hammerstein called "Annie Get Your Gun" based upon the life of Wild West star Annie Oakley. But on the street in November of 1945, Kern collapsed and died of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was found without identification; whether he didn't carry any ID or was the victim of a posthumous robbery is subject to debate; But without knowing his identity, his body was moved to a "derelict ward" of the hospital where it stayed until family and friends finally located him.
In the Broadway tradition of "the show must go on", "Annie Get Your Gun" went on to be produced by Kern's lyric-writing partner Oscar Hammerstein, the 2nd. Irving Berlin was hired to step in and write the music to Hammerstein's lyrics; and as most everyone knows it yielded a major hit including the song "There's No Business Like Show Business."
Kern's long career spanned three generations of Broadway Musical Theatre, and set a standard to which many composers that followed him aspired.
was born in New York City to an upper-class family. His maternal grandfather named Levy had earned a fortune in the silk business, and his father was a physician whose practice was located in the bottom floor of the house in which Richard grew up. In his autobiography "Musical Stages" Richard Rodgers describes a happy extended family of various relatives living in the large house whose last name was Rodgers or Levy.
Rodgers had been a piano student as a youth, and despite nearly losing a finger to an infection as a boy, he continued to work on developing a musical career, but more as a songwriter/composer during his teens. He wrote individual songs and began composing amateur musical revues at age 15. The family's summer home on Long Island wasn't far from the estate of Oscar Hammerstein, 2nd., who encouraged him, and was to become Rodgers collaborator many years later.
Rodgers first collaborator was a fellow New Yorker he met via a school friend -- witty lyricist Lary Hart, a small closeted gay man who developed an addiction to alcohol which would end up dooming him years later. But in the beginning, their collaboration produced some memorable and fresh tunes for the Broadway stage at just the right time when Broadway Musical Theatre was at the pinnacle of its popularity.
At Columbia University during 1919 - 1921, Rodgers and Hart collaborated on various so-called "Varsity Shows" and met a young conductor-composer who would help them break into Broadway named Roy Webb (later a composer of film scores in Hollywood.) When a musical Lew Fields was producing on Broadway ran into trouble, it was Roy Webb who told the producer about Rodgers and Hart and got them their first opportunity to write songs for a Broadway revue. The year was 1920 and the show was called "Poor Little Ritz Girl", which had more problems during its Boston tryouts, so some of the Rodgers and Hart songs were replaced by songs by Sigmund Romberg. The show wasn't too badly received, but it was up against some rather stiff competition, so didn't become a hit and only played three months on Broadway.
But it did get the team started, and got their name known which led to more work. This led to Rodgers dropping out of Columbia University which upset his doctor father. Still, Rodgers had to follow the path he felt was his natural one, and it proved to be the right decision. However during a string of contributions to rather forgettable musicals during the next four years, Rodgers felt he wanted more training in formal arts of arranging and music theory including "ear training." So with his father's reluctant blessing he enrolled in the school now known as Julliard School of Music in 1921. It was then known as the "Institute of Musical Arts", where he honed his needed skills and met more valuable contacts.
The steady contributions of songs Rodgers and Hart kept making to Broadway shows during the years 1921 - 1924 helped them get established, and the quality of Rodgers writing did improve as he learned more interesting ways to write melodies and harmonies, particularly from an influential teacher known as Percy Goetschius, who Rodgers wrote "was to harmony what Gray was to anatomy."
The first show that could be said to have put Rodgers and Hart "on the map" was the "Garrick Gaieties" of 1925 -- a musical revue held at the Garrick Theatre. Among the songs Rodgers and Hart wrote for that show was a little duet which was sung in front of the current while scenery was being changed between acts. The song was "Manhattan" and it proved the runaway hit of the whole show, in fact it was the smash of the whole season. Larry's clever lyric was perfectly matched by the melody Richard wrote. Audiences demanded encores and the song took off selling sheet music and making Rodgers and Hart an instantly reliable team capable of writing an entire score. This was offered with the show "Dearest Enemy" and it produced another successful song -- the love duet "Here In My Arms."
With two successful shows running simultaneously on Broadway and at least two hit songs from them becoming known publicly, Max Dreyfuss of T. B. Harms offered the boys a writing contract to publish their songs. Despite having turned Rodgers down earlier when he was an unknown, Rodgers found Dreyfuss was a loyal friend from that day forward for the next forty years. (After Dreyfuss' death, Rodgers founded his own publishing company known as Williamson Music.)
Surprisingly the next big hit came in England where Rodgers and Hart were working on writing songs for a revue which had the inglorious title of "One Dam Thing After Another" [aka: "The London Pavilion Revue".] The title came to Larry Hart during a London taxi ride when a near accident caused a young woman to exclaim "My Heart Stood Still". So naturally he wrote a song lyric and with Rodgers charming tune for it, it became the hit for the show.
Returning to New York, the team began work on shows during the 1920s and 1930s which produced some of the classic Rodgers and Hart songs. In 1927, the team discussed an idea with Lew Fields for a musical based upon a 1921 film comedy "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." Fields agreed to produce it, and they obtained the rights for the production which now had the shortened title "A Connecticut Yankee." This show yielded a song called "Thou Swell" which was unique for its archaic language but a charming love song for the time; and a re-introduction to American audiences of the song which had been such a hit in England "My Heart Stood Still".
Two years later in 1929 the team had a similar hit with a melody that was to become Jane Froman's trademark song years later "With A Song In My Heart" from the show "Spring Is Here." Of course this was the year the market "laid an egg" to quote the trade paper Variety. So that made the times have a particular uncertainty. While the Rodgers family was not exactly poor, the shows during the next five years didn't do too well on Broadway.
Emerging in 1935 with Billy Rose's "Jumbo", the Rodgers and Hart magic was back. The circus-based show had five melodies which were to become known throughout the years -- "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" was a resounding hit, "My Romance" became a classic love song, "Little Girl Blue" was a oft-recorded charmer, and two instrumentals from the show became TV themes years later -- "March Of The Clowns" was the theme song for the TV series "The Greatest Show on Earth" in 1963 and a few years later the "CBS Sports Spectacular" used another march called "The Circus On Parade" as its theme.
The following year in 1936 Rodgers and Hart proved they were "on a roll" with the show "On Your Toes" -- a collaboration with producer George Abbott and choreographer George Ballanchine. Set in the world of dance, it brought a couple of standards into the world, including "There's A Small Hotel" and the ballet sequence "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue" which yielded several familiar melodies that are not always heard together unless the full 10-minute piece is played.
1937 was the year Rodgers and Hart wrote "Babes In Arms" which included the standards "Where Or When" and "My Funny Valentine". As if that wasn't enough, the show also debuted the up-tempo hit "Johnny One Note" and two songs which were known for their clever lyrics and covered by many major singers up to and including Sinatra, "I Wish I Were In Love Again" and "The Lady Is A Tramp."
By now you might get the impression that Rodgers and Hart practically owned Broadway, and in those signature years when Musical Theatre was in flower, it seemed like the shows would never stop. And for awhile they kept on coming and each one introducing more wonderful songs.
In 1938 there were two shows -- "I Married An Angel" which had a charming title song, and also introduced the familiar tune "Spring Is Here." Then came another clever musical based loosely on history -- called "The Boys From Syracuse" which was an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors." It had the tunes "This Can't Be Love" and the memorable waltz song, "Falling In Love With Love."
In 1940, the Rodgers and Hart created another standard called "Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered)" for a musical called "Pal Joey."
In 1942, after a lackluster show "By Jupiter" had come and gone, it was becoming more obvious that Larry Hart's alcoholism had spun totally out of control, and his binges more frequent until he was becoming unreliable. Rodgers had no choice but to tell him that for an upcoming musical set in Oklamoma he would have to replace him, and urged him to check himself in a sanitarium to recover. Within a year, Larry Hart had died from the alcoholism he could not control.
Ironically in the midst of this sad event, one of the deepest sorrows in Richard Rodgers life, he was to create a musical that made history. And he would do it with a new partner -- a former neighbor at his family's Long Island summer house -- Oscar Hammerstein, the 2nd. The musical was of course "Oklahoma", which created a modern new style of Musical Theatre that tightly integrated songs into the plot in a more naturalistic way -- and this was to become the modern signature of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
"Oklahoma" made Broadway history -- it began in 1943 and ran for an astonishing 2,248 performances and of course also was made into a film musical. It's title song was a runaway hit, and other memorable melodies included "Oh What A Beautiful Morning", the novelty "The Surrey With The Fringe On Top" and the love duet "People Will Say We're In Love."
The same year, another Rodgers and Hammerstein show was brought back in a revival -- "A Connecticut Yankee" came back to charm audiences once more.
But it was the next show in 1944 that was to demonstrate beyond question how Rodgers and Hammerstein transcended what had previously been known as "Musical Comedy" into a true "Musical Theatre". The show was "Carousel", and it was Rodgers favorite of all he wrote. Beginning with the overture which was a "Carousel Waltz", and it's unusual story line about a love that continues after one of the partners dies. The show also had an unusual male "Soliloquy" (also known as "My Boy Bill"), a bright tune "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" and the romantic "If I Loved You". Of course the show stopper was the song of faith which ends the musical "You'll Never Walk Alone."
How can you top a career like the one Rodgers had up to this point? For 24 years with two writing partners he had made such a contribution to the Broadway Theatre it must have seemed impossible to top himself. But there were still a number of landmarks he was able to create into the 1950s. So many people will say that Richard Rodgers was the prime example of a Broadway composer, and in fact his quality was as steady as the quantity of consistent work that flowed from his fingers.
In 1949, Rodgers and Hammerstein got the rights to create a musical based upon a long best-selling book "Tales of the South Pacific" by James Michener. The show "South Pacific" of course was another blockbuster, which contained the sailor inspired songs "There Is Nothing Like A Dame" , "Bloody Mary", the comic "Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-a My Hair", the wistful "Bali Ha'i", the romantic "Some Enchanted Evening", and last but not least the beautiful ballad "This Nearly Was Mine." This show ran nearly 2000 performances as well.
In 1951, another book "Anna and the King Of Siam" was turned into Musical magic by Rodgers and Hammerstein when they wrote "The King And I." Always interested in a fresh new approach, Rodgers created a palette based in part on effects of exotic instruments conveyed by a traditional orchestra. The memorable "March Of The Siamese Children" was an example of how he created a miniature tone poem which was often played by itself as an instrumental on radio and sold a number of records. Of course the songs in the show were wonderful too -- "Getting To Know You", "Shall We Dance?", "We Kiss In A Shandow", "I Whistle A Happy Tune", and "Hello, Young Lovers."
In 1952 Richard Rodgers was given a commission to write a score for a television documentary that was called "Victory At Sea" about the role of the Navy during World War II. Although this mammoth undertaking was daunting since the score was nearly throughout every hour-long episode, Rodgers complied by writing memorable tunes which were then arranged by Richard Rodney Bennett. The result yielded quite a few great melodies, and RCA Victor issued 3 volumes of soundtrack albums, an unprecedented project for television music. (And this was seven years before the "Peter Gunn" TV soundtrack of Mancini caused the record industry to think it had invented the idea.)
Rodgers re-used one of the melodies from the "Victory At Sea" television show called "Beneath The Southern Cross" as a song entitled "No Other Love" with lyrics by Hammerstein in his next musical called "Me and Juliet". in 1953
In 1958, Rodgers and Hammerstein created a musical based upon an oriental story called "Flower Drum Song", which had a lively overture and several numbers that were recorded by several artists, including "I Enjoy Being A Girl", "Love Look Away" and "You Are Beautiful."
But the next year, in 1959 another blockbuster was created that stood as the pinnacle of the Rodgers and Hammerstein career, based upon the story of the von Trapp Family Singers who escaped Austria during World War II by climbing over the Alps to freedom. It was, of course, "The Sound Of Music" which was made into a motion picture starring Julie Andrews later. From that show came "Do-Re-Mi", "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "The Sound Of Music", and "Climb Every Mountain."
But just as the great success from the "Sound Of Music" was being enjoyed, bitter news came that Oscar Hammerstein, the 2nd, was suffering from terminal cancer. He elected not to be treated with painful treatments that would only postpone the inevitable. And so he went home to spend the remaining years at his country farm, where he passed away in the Summer of 1960.
Two years later Richard Rodgers wrote another show called "No Strings" in 1962 in which he attempted to be his own lyricist. It included the songs "Love Makes The World Go (Round)" and "The Sweetest Sounds", but the show was not long-lived.
During the 1970s, some attempts were made to create new shows collaborating with other lyric writers. But they didn't seem to work too well. Richard Rodgers passed away just before New Years Eve in 1979 after more than 50 years in show business.
was born "Julius K. Stein" on New Years' Eve just before 1906 in a poor section of London, England. When he was 5 years old he began taking piano lessons. His family came to live in America when he was 8 years old and settled in Chicago. Little Jule (pronounced "Julie") made his debut as a piano prodigy with the Chicago Symphony a year later at age 9. During his teen years, an accident with a drill press led to a "desensitized finger", which led to switching from concertizing to playing popular music.
As a young man during the depression years of the late1920s and early 1930s, Jule organized and led dance bands throughout Chicago. Those years were tough, but his talent for performing and arranging accessible memorable melodies and winning friendships paid off. In 1926 he joined the Ben Pollock Band. His first published song "Sunday" was written in Chicago in that same year, and sold a half million copies of sheet music.
Coming to New York City in 1934, he first made a living as a vocal coach. Then found work writing special material for revues. After being noticed by 20th-Century Fox mogul Max Schenk, he travelled to Hollywood in 1938 to be a vocal coach for musical films, and write special material for child star Shirley Temple and a few B-picture Western cowboy singers. The latter he did during a stint at Republic Studios.
Jule changed the spelling of his last name to the unique "Styne" to avoid confusion with Dr. Julius Stein who was then head of the powerful talent agency M.C.A. (Music Corporation of America.) During the late thirties he conducted radio shows including Harry Richman's "Lux Show" and Alice Faye's 1939 musical show.
During the 1940s and 1950s Stein's collaborations with lyricists yielded the most enduring contributions to stage and screen. Jule commuted between East and West coasts to fashion some of the most memorable songs for musical films and on the Broadway stage -- with such collaborators as lyricists Frank Loesser, Sammy Cahn, Leo Robin, Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Later in his career he was also to collaborate with Bob Hilliard, Bob Merrill and Stephen Sondheim.
Although he had written published songs since 1926, it wasn't until his 1941 song with lyricist Frank Loesser, "I Don't Want To Walk Without You" became a smash hit, that his career took off. He composed music for film called "Ice Capades" (1941), and his first Broadway Show was actually an Ice Capades show ("Ice Capades of 1943", which was mounted in the Fall of 1942.) Lyricist Sol Meyers wrote the material.
In 1944, Styne teamed up with another lyricist named Sammy Cahn which began a more fruitful collaboration on both songs and musicals. For a Frank Sinatra film musical "Anchors Aweigh" (1944) they wrote the tune "I Fall in Love Too Easily." That same year they wrote "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry" and "As Long As There's Music" which were both recorded by Sinatra. In 1944 they attempted a Broadway show that closed during its Philadelphia tryout called "Glad To See You."
Then still in 1944, they wrote a song "It's Been a Long, Long Time" which became a smash hit, and their career went into high gear beginning with a couple more Hollywood Film Musicals, "Follow The Boys" (1944) and "Tonight and Every Night" (1945.)
One song they wrote in 1946 was to begin a Christmas perennial -- "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!"
Returning to New York to try the Broadway Stage again the Stein-Cahn combination finally found a winning vehicle in "High Button Shoes" (1947) and they were off and running. It yielded no hit songs, but made a lifelong fan of the show's star Phil Silvers who years later asked Stein to appear in cameo roles on his "Sergeant Bilko" TV series "You'll Never Get Rich."
Two years later the Stein-Cahn partnership was red-hot when they wrote "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1949), a Carol Channing vehicle famous for the song "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend." This musical was later made into a film starring Marilyn Monroe who adopted the song for her own signature.
Styne was a shrewd businessman who also became a producer of some of his own Broadway shows. His association with vocalists included the "Chairman of the Board", Frank Sinatra led to writing new material.
It was an impromptu recording by Sinatra on the studio lot of a new song Cahn and Styne wrote which resulted in winning the "Best Song from a Motion Picture" at the1954 Academy Awards, for "Three Coins In The Fountain." During this period they also wrote a string of songs for Frank Sinatra from "The Christmas Waltz" (1954) to "Come Dance With Me" (1959.)
In 1951 Styne also began writing musicals with the lyricist team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Their first effort was "Two On The Aisle" (1951). After writing with Bob Hilliard the show "Hazel Flagg" (1953), Styne returned to work with Comden and Green on a string of wonderful shows. They included "Bells Are Ringing" (1956), "Say, Darling" (1958), "Do Re Mi" (1960), "Subways Are For Sleeping" (1961), "Fade Out-Fade In" (1964) and "Hallelujah, Baby!" (1967.)
Styne was mostly a composer, but did provid an original story for the 1954 Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis comedy "Living It Up" with Janet Leigh and Edward Albert.
In 1959, in between writing musicals with Comden-Green, Styne somehow found the time to team up with a young Stephen Sondheim on a project to write a musical about the life of Gypsy Rose Lee, simply called "Gypsy." It starred the legendary Ethel Merman in the title role. And it produced the songs "Let Me Entertain You", "Together Wherever We Go" and "Small World."
Another young collaborator named Bob Hilliard wrote the lyrics to the musical "Funny Girl" (1964) about the life of Fanny Brice. It starred Barbra Streisand who also was featured in the film version produced four years later. "Funny Girl" was the musical that put Streisand on the map, and made a hit out of her signature song "People." It also yielded the tongue-twisting fast-tempoed "Don't Rain On My Parade."
A number of Styne's musicals were made into memorable films or were original films/TV programs with music. They included: "Follow the Boys" (1944), "Tonight and Every Night" (1945), "It Happened In Brooklyn" (1947), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), "Three Coins in the Fountain" (1954), the Mary Martin TV musical "Peter Pan" (1954), "Bells Are Ringing" (1960), "Gypsy" (1962) and the Barbra Streisand film version of "Funny Girl' (1968).
In 1968, Styne collaborated with legendary lyricist E. Y. ("Yip") Harburg on a Broadway musical called "Darling of the Day", which starred Patricia Routledge and Vincent Price. But it was only to last 32 performances. In 1970, Styne again teamed up with song-writing friend Sammy Cahn to write "Look To The Lilies" starring Shirley Booth. It had less success with only 25 performances. In 1971, another effort with Bob Hilliard called "Prettybelle" closed during a pre-Broadway tryout.
But in 1972, despite many revisions, the musical "Sugar" written with Bob Merrill lasted over a year and a half -- running some 505 performances.
And with the Comden-Green team, the 1974 effort, "Lorelei (or Gentlemen Still Prefer Blondes)" went on to a respectable 320 performances, with the promotional efforts of producer David Merrick.
Three more attempts to mount musicals during the late 1970s -1980 were short-lived, or aborted during tryouts. The final one was "One Night Stand" (1980) written with lyricist Herb Gardner.
Jule Styne passed away in 1994 at Mt. Sinai Hospital following open-heart surgery, at the age of 88.
was born Seymour Kaufman in The Bronx, New York. He began as a child prodigy who gave classical piano recitals at Steinway Hall, Town Hall and Carnegie Hall before he was 9 years old.
Attending the "High School of Music and Art" at the "New York College of Music" Seymour studied traditional music theory by day, and worked his way into what was known in jazz circles as "the cocktail circuit" -- playing urbane background music at society cafes and upscale parties. Somehow the name "Seymour Kaufman" got transmuted to "Cy Coleman" during these urbane gigs, and so his name evolved, along with his musical style.
His Broadway debut came in 1953, at age 24, when he contributed several songs for a review called "John Murray Anderson's Almanac." This led to collaboration on over 25 shows during the next fifty years. Some of these shows included "Wildcat," "Little Me," "Seesaw" and "Sweet Charity." His collaborators included major lyricists Dorothy Fields, Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
The show "Wildcat" was notable as Lucille Ball's singular attempt at conquering Broadway following her TV successes. But the most memorable legacy was the Coleman music for the show.
For these Broadway shows and for pop vocalists he composed several memorable tunes that achieved legendary status via multiple recorded versions -- including "If My Friends Could See Me Now," "Big Spender," "Witchcraft," "Pass Me By," "Hey, Look Me Over," "The Rhythm of Life," "The Rules of the Road," "The Best Is Yet to Come" and "For Once In My Life." The latter even enjoyed a rebirth in an early disco arrangement, as a 1968 hit for Stevie Wonder.
During the 1960's Cy Coleman wrote a couple of memorable THEMEs for two short-lived late-night TV talk/variety shows Š "Playboy's Theme" for Hugh Hefner's "Playboy's Penthouse T.V. Party", a syndicated 1960 show; and "Les's Theme", for "The Les Crane Show" which only lasted four months as part of ABC's "Nightlife" series in 1964. (This was ABC's attempt to find something in the late-night area to go up against NBC's dominant "Johnny Carson Tonight Show." Cy Coleman had been hired as the bandleader for Crane's program, and was replaced after Crane quit.)
His tasteful music often combined ideas from jazz idioms he picked up as a youthful musician, with the best traditions of Broadway songwriting he absorbed and polished as he matured. Some examples were the subtle harmonic blends he used in the TV Theme for "Playboy's Penthouse" and the jazz instrumental "Ya Turned Me On, Baby." He was also perfectly capable of creating an intricate classical fugue, as heard in the song "The Rhythm of Life" from the musical "Sweet Charity."
Later he tried composing for motion pictures, and provided scores for such films as "Father Goose" (1964), "The Art of Love" (1965), "The Heartbreak Kid" (1972), "Garbo Talks" (1984), and "Family Business" (1989.) During the early 1960s he also dabbled a bit in commercial advertising music -- for "American Airlines" and the "Ford" Motor company.
Coleman served on the board of ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) since 1966.
On the last day of his life, Coleman attended the opening a new Broadway show (for Michael Frayn's "Democracy.") At the cast party later he wasnÕt feeling well. So his wife went with him to a hospital, where he collapsed and died of a massive heart attack at age 75.
was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts with the name "Louis Bernstein." But instead of the nickname "Lou", he preferred the name "Leonard." So when he was 16 years old he had his name officially changed to "Leonard Bernstein." "Lenny", as he was also known, grew up in the Boston area. He attended Garrison Grammar School in Roxbury, Massachusetts as well as the Boston Latin School.
At the age of 10 his family bought a piano, and he rapidly devoured music, becoming not only a talented young pianist, but absorbed music theory and composition. Leonard gave his first piano recital at the age of 16 in 1934. He even contributed articles to music journals during his late teens. He attended Harvard College as an undergraduate music major - studying with Walter Piston and other faculty members who were modern composers. He then took his graduate studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
It was at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia that he studied conducting with the famous maestro of the Chicago Symphony, Fritz Reiner. And beginning in 1940, Bernstein's summers were spent at the newly-formed Tanglewood Music Festival where he assisted Serge Koussevitsky. He soon became known to the major conductors of the day as an up-and-coming talent. In 1943, at the age of 25, he had the good fortune to be hired as Assistant Conductor to Artur Rodzinski of the ensemble known originally as "The Philharmonic Society of New York", which became "The New York Philharmonic Orchestra."
Bernstein was a charismatic young musician who worked hard and found himself at the right place at the right time when a handsome and brilliant young conductor was just what was needed to stimulate interest in concert music.
A network radio concert from Carnegie Hall in 1943 provided a lucky break for Bernstein, when he was called in to substitute for the ailing Bruno Walter. The attention from this event led to conductorships of the New York City Symphony Orchestra (1945 - 1947.) He was also taught conducting at the summer Tanglewood festival and on the faculty at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Bernstein was much in demand as a guest conductor of many orchestras including several in Europe. He was soon to become the permanent conductor of The New York Philharmonic Orchestra - a position he held continuously for eleven years, from 1958 to 1969.
As a conductor of one of the foremost orchestras in the world, Bernstein championed the music of contemporary composers including his friend Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, and French composer Francis Poulenc. He also introduced the late-romantic period symphonies of Gustav Mahler to American audiences as well as a number of avant-garde composers working in the 1960s including William Schuman, Roy Harris, Paul Bowles and Wallingford Riegger.
Bernstein not only used his podium to lead an orchestra, but to educate the public as a lecturer and author of several books which endeavored to open more minds and hearts to the wonders of concert music. His books included "The Joy of Music" (1959), "The Young People's Concerts" (1961), "The Infinite Variety of Music" (1966), "The Unanswered Question" (1976) based upon a series of televised lectures he gave at Harvard between 1972 - 1973, and his final book, "Findings" (1982.)
A marvelous quote explains Bernstein's attitude toward musical composition. He wrote, "Any great work of art...revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world - the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air."
In 1958, the same year he was given the permanent post of conductor of The New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein began hosting of a series of televised "Young People's concerts", in which he explained and conducted excerpts from the classics. This wonderful series of weekend specials seen on the CBS network inspired countless people of many ages to take a greater interest in concert music.
As if his busy schedule of conducting, writing books and hosting television concerts weren't enough, Bernstein had the prodigious composing abilities of a Renaissance man - to create a diverse group of works for ballet, for the concert hall and the musical stage. Inspired in part by Gershwin, Bernstein integrated jazz harmonies and rhythms in his works beginnin in the mid-1940s.
His ballet "Fancy Free" (1944) was choreographed by Jerome Robbins who would later collaborate on dance for Berstein musicals. In fact, "Fancy Free" inspired Bernstein's first musical that same year, called "On The Town." Other ballets composed by Bernstein included "Facsimile" (1946) and "Dybbuk" (1974.)
His Broadway musicals included "On The Town" (1944), "Wonderful Town" (1953), "Candide" (1956) and "West Side Story" (1957) , which had been originally tentatively titled "East Side Story." The writing of "Candide" and "West Side Story" overlapped, and Bernstein admitted later that he swapped songs between the two musicals as he decided on better placement. For example, the song "One Hand, One Heart" -- originally written for the naive young lovers to sing in "Candide" -- ended up sung by Tony and Maria in "West Side Story."
Bernstein also wrote incidental music for two Broadway plays: "Peter Pan" (1950) and "The Lark" (1955.)
In 1954 he scored the Columbia Pictures production of "On The Waterfront", directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando. This was his only motion picture commission.
Bernstein even tried writing a couple of operas: the one-act "Trouble In Tahiti" (1952), and a longer 3-act work "A Quiet Place" (1983) which was considered a sequel to the first. He also composed a number of lighter orchestral works, three full-length symphonies, plus several serious works for chorus and orchestra.
Often selections from his musicals and film score found their way into the light concert repertoire in the form of dance suites or an overture, particularly the lively Overture to the musical "Candide" which could serve equally well as either an opener or an encore selection.
Curiously, Bernstein's music found its way into television as THEME music without being commissioned for that purpose. The first use of it was the Epilogue movement of his "Age Of Anxiety" Symphony No. 2 (written from 1948-1949) used as a closing credits THEME for the cultural umbrella series "Omnibus" on CBS during its earliest years (circa 1952 - 1955.)
Talk show host Dick Cavett used Bernstein's Overture to "Candide" as the opening and closing THEME of his first (1969) show on ABC, and the opening THEME for his PBS show (1977 - 1981.) The closing THEME of the PBS show was the droll song "Glitter and Be Gay", also from "Candide." For his 1986 late-night show on ABC, Cavett again used the Overture to "Candide" played in a small jazz combo arrangement.
Several memorable melodies from Bernstein musicals "Wonderful Town", "Candide" and especially "West Side Story" became standards of the Broadway repertoire. Bernstein's romantic songs "Maria", "Somewhere" and "Tonight" plus the ebullient "New York, New York" were to join the ranks of legendary songs from the musical stage.
In October of 1990, Leonard Bernstein died of a cardiac arrest - a complication of mesothelioma from which he suffered during his final years - at his home on West 72nd Street in New York City at the age of 72. He was interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
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