Harold Arlen

1905 - 1986

His music is everywhere! You have probably heard, and maybe even hummed, a Harold Arlen song today and didn't even know it! He is most noted for composing the songs for the film "The Wizard of Oz" in 1939.  In the year 2000, “Over the Rainbow,” from that show, was recognized as the number one song of the 20th century by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Harold Arlen is a music legend. One of the most significant songwriters of the modern era, he composed hundreds of memorable tunes which are still heard and loved today all over the world. During his lifetime, he collaborated with such major lyricists as Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, Ted Koehler and Dorothy Fields. His songs have been recorded by every great artist of the 20th Century and have become among the best-known songs in the world.

Harold Arlen (“Hyman Arluck”) was born on February 15, 1905 in Buffalo, New York. He started piano lessons at 9 years old and rapidly advanced in his study of classical music. As a teenager, Harold developed a deep passion for jazz and took jobs playing the piano in local bands, movie houses, vaudeville troupes, and cabaret

Harold left school at 16 years old to pursue a career in music on a full-time basis. Though only in his teens, he was already a seasoned performer. He played for several years with various bands and went on a multi-city tour before moving to New York City at the young age of 20.

In 1929, Arlen was introduced to lyricist Ted Koehler. The two joined forces as a songwriting team and scored a hit with the much-loved tune “Get Happy.” The song’s incredible success landed them a job writing music for the renowned Cotton Club in Harlem, NY. They wrote five shows for the Cotton Club from 1930-34 turning out some of the era’s biggest hits including “Stormy Weather,” “I’ve Got the World On A String,” “I Love A Parade,” and “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.” Here they also wrote special material for Cab Calloway.

Harold Arlen moved Hollywood to and wrote music for films from 1934 through 1963. In 1939, he collaborated with lyricist E.Y. Harburg to compose songs for the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” The film and its Academy Award-winning song “Over the Rainbow” became instant classics.

In total, Harold Arlen composed more than 20 musical revues and theater works and 30 scores for Hollywood films during his career. He collaborated with over 20 different lyricists in addition to writing lyrics of his own for numerous songs. He composed several solo piano pieces, and created over 500 songs during his lifetime. Harold Arlen died in his New York City apartment on April 23, 1986.

Harold Arlen’s popular songs include:
Get Happy
Between the Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
Last night When We Were Young
Stormy Weather
I’ve Got The World On A String
Over The Rainbow (Lyrics by Yip Harburg)
If I Only Had A Brain (Lyrics by Yip Harburg)
We’re Off To See The Wizard (Lyrics by Yip Harburg)
The Wicked Witch Is Dead (Lyrics by Yip Harburg)
 It’s Only A Paper Moon
The Man That Got Away (Lyrics by Ira Gershwin)
I Love A Parade
Minnie Moocher (For Cab Calloway)
Let’s Fall In Love
A Sleepin’ Bee ( Lyrics by Truman Capote)
Ill Wind
I Got A Right To Sing The Blues
Songs written (with Johnny Mercer as lyricist}
Come Rain Or Come Shine (1946) (Mercer / Arlen)
That Old Black Magic (1942) (Mercer / Arlen)
One For My Baby (1943) (Mercer / Arlen)
Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive (1944) (Mercer / Arlen)
Hit The Road To Dreamland (1942) (Mercer / Arlen)
This Times The Dreams On Me (Mercer / Arlen)
Blues In The Night (1941) (Mercer / Arlen)
My Shining Hour (Mercer / Arlen)
Out Of This World (Mercer / Arlen)
Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home (1946) (Mercer / Arlen)


Cole Porter

Cole was one of the true geniuses of the theater. It was generally agreed that no one wrote wittier or more beautiful songs than Cole Porter. He was one of the very few songwriters who wrote both the music and the lyrics to his songs. Most other songwriters worked as a team with lyricists.

Cole was born in 1891 into a high society family of means in Indiana. He received a first class education as a child in French, violin, piano and horseback riding. Then his family sent him to both Yale and Harvard Universities. Cole's favorite past time as a young man was writing songs. He wrote many musicals while at Yale. He even wrote a cheer leading song for the Yale football team that is still used today. He dreamed about being a Broadway composer and finally got his chance in 1916. Cole wrote the music to a musical called “ See America First” that was dismal flop. Young Cole was devastated by the public response, so much so, that he left the country for France and joined the French Foreign Legion during World War I!

When the war ended, Cole stayed on in Europe and lived there until he was 37 years old. In Paris he met and married a beautiful American divorcee. Linda Thomas, who was also a high society figure . They bought beautiful palatial homes in Venice and Paris. They did what they enjoyed doing most, constantly hosting lavish parties and inviting the likes of Counts and Princesses, movie stars and entertainers. Their parties were always the talk of the town and were widely known internationally.

All along Cole kept writing songs and kept submitting to Broadway, but was continually rejected. He said he would write 4 or 5 songs a day just to keep in practice. He was an unusual songwriter by the fact he was already financially successful. His daily writing routing would begin with his personal valet sharpening his pencils for him and when the pencils would get dull he would put them by the side of his desk and his valet would pick them up and keep them constantly sharp for him.

Cole stepped into international fame as a song writer when he moved back to the states to New York at the suggestion of his admirer and friend, Irving Berlin. He was immediately sought after by Broadway producers. His first

show, Paris, produced the hit song, Let’s Fall in Love. Followed by, What is Thing called Love, from Wake Up and Dream.  He was constantly in demand writing hundreds of songs for Shows and Musicals into mid 1950’s.

A partial list of Cole Porter popular tunes. . .
    * LET’S MISBEHAVE 1927
    * LETS DO IT 1928
    * LOVE FOR SALE 1930
    * NIGHT AND DAY. 1932
    * ANYTHING GOES 1932
    * I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU 1932
    * YOU’RE THE TOP 1932
    * IT’S DELOVELY 1934
    * DON’T FENCE ME IN 1934
    * EASY TO LOVE 1936
    * AT LONG LAST LOVE 1937
    * GET OUT OF TOWN 1938
    * DREAM DANCING 1941
    * I LOVE YOU 1944
    * I LOVE PARIS 1953
    * CAN CAN 1953
    * WUNDERBAR 1948
    * IT’S TOO DARN HOT 1948
    * WE OPEN IN VENICE 1948
    * SO IN LOVE 1948
    * ALL OF YOU 1955
    * TRUE LOVE 1956

Oscar Hammerstein II

(1895 -1960)

A short list of Oscar’s songs before his association with Richard Rodgers include:

Indian Love Call (1924) with Otto Harburg and Rudolf Frimel
Desert Song (1926) With Sigmund Romberg
Make Believe (1927) with Jerome Kern
Old Man River (1927) with Jerome Kern
Bill (1927) with Jerome Kern
Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man(1927) with Jerome Kern
Desert Song (1926) With Sigmund Romberg
Stout Hearted Men (1928) With Sigmund Romberg
Lover Come Back to Me (1928) With Sigmund Romberg
Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (1928) With Sigmund Romberg
The Song Is You (1932) with Jerome Kern
I Won’t Dance (1934) with Jerome Kern
When I Grow Too Old Too Dream (1935) With Sigmund Romberg
I’ll Take Romance (1936)
All The Things You Are (1939) with Jerome Kern
The Last Time I Saw Paris (1940) with Jerome Kern

Here are some of his many musical productions listed below.

Oscar Hammerstein II was an American writer, producer, and director of musicals for almost forty years. While a student at Columbia University he participated in his first plays with several Varsity Shows. Throughout the next forty years of his life, he would team up with many superb composers.  One such early association was with Jerome Kern.  In 1927 they collaborated on the musical, ‘Show Boat.” This production is still considered to be one of the masterpieces of the American musical theatre.

Hammerstein most successful and sustained collaboration came in 1943 when he teamed up with Richard Rodgers. The result of this new collaboration was Oklahoma, a show that revolutionized the American musical theatre by tightly integrating all the aspects of musical theater, with the songs and dances arising out of the plot and characters. It also began a partnership which would produce such classic Broadway musicals as Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, Me & Juliet, Pipe Dream, Flower Drum Song, and The Sound of Music as well as the musical film State Fair.

Oscar Hammerstein is today considered the most important figure in the history of American musical theater for it was he, probably the best "book writer" in Broadway history, who made the story, not the songs or the stars, central to the American musical and brought it to full maturity as an art form
He won two Oscars for best original song. He died at the age of 65. He was universally mourned, with the lights of Times Square and London 's West End being dimmed in recognition of his contribution to the American musical.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein list is long and full and comes mostly from the 1950's, with favorites like:

Surry With The Fringe On Top
Sound Of Music
Climb Every mountain
Oh What A beautiful Morning
It Might As Well Be Spring
People will Say We're In Love
If I Loved You
Oh What A Beautiful Morning
You;ll Never walk Alone
Hello Young Lovers
Some Enchanted Evening and on and on. . . .

Rodgers & Hart
Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart were the first team in which the lyricist received equal billing with the composer. Both were born in New York City. Rodgers attended Columbia University. He was largely a self-taught pianist who, by his own description, didn’t play with any virtuosity. His father was a doctor and the family would see nearly every musical that would appear on Broadway when he was growing up. They encouraged him enthusiastically to be a composer when he displayed a talent for composing as a boy.

Hart was a self-educated man with a vivacious personality. He was raised in an artistic and theatrical family environment. He was writing plays and lyrics when very young, having them staged every year at the summer camps he attended. Dick and Larry began to work together on amateur shows in 1919.

Dick was 16 years old at the time and Larry was 23. They achieved their first professional success with The Garrick Gaieties (1925). During the 1920's and 1930's, Rodgers and Hart helped hone musical comedy into a well-developed art form. The team produced its best work during that period and only Cole Porter rivaled Hart for satirical wit and freshness of rhymes. Hart and Rodgers moved to Hollywood in 1930 to compose for motion pictures. They returned to New York City in 1934 and resumed writing for the stage. Their songs appeared in such musicals as, A Connecticut Yankee (1927), Jumbo (1935), On Your Toes (1936). Babes in Arms (1937), The Boys from Syracuse (1938 and Pal Joey (1940).

Here are some of their popular songs. 
Manhattan 1925
    * Blue Room 1926
    * Mountain Greenery 1926
    * My Heart Stood Still 1927
    * Thou Swell 1927
    * You Took Advantage of Me 1928
    * With A Song In My Heart 1929
    * 10 Cents a Dance 1930
    * Isn’t It Romantic? 1931
    * Dancing on the Ceiling 1931
    * Lover 1931
    * You are too Beautiful 1932
    * Easy To Remember 1934
    * Blue Moon 1934
    * My Romance 1935
    * The Most Beautiful Girl In The World 1935
    * Slaughter on Tenth Avenue 1936
    * There’s A Small Hotel 1936
    * Where or When 1937
    * Lady is a Tramp 1937
    * Johnny One Note 1937
    * My Funny Valentine 1937
    * Have you met Miss Jones? 1937
    * I Wish I Were In Love Again 1937
    * Falling In Love With Love 1938
    * This Can’t Be Love 1938
    * Spring Is Here 1938
    * You’re Nearer 1939
    * I Didn’t Know What Time It Was 1939
    * It Never Entered My Mind 1940
    * I Could Write A Book 1940
       Bewitched 1940

Irving Berlin
Irving Berlin wrote more hit songs than any other American songwriter. Cheek to Cheek, Puttin’ on the Ritz, White Christmas, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, and God Bless America. He produced over 500 hit songs, 282 were, “top-ten hits” and 35 became the number one song of their day.

Irving Berlin was writing songs in the age before radio, motion pictures or phonographs. His songs became popular through musical stage productions and through the sales of his sheet music back in the early 1900s. But his career also extended into the modern age and his music became immensely popular through movies and record sales during the 1930s, 40s and 50s. His career flourished from 1908 up until the 1960s, perhaps the longest of all the songwriters' of the 20th century. He preceded composers such as Cole Porter, the Gershwin's, and Rodgers and Hart, and was still prolific after their careers had ended. The fact that he lived to be 101 years old was, of course, to his advantage. Even in his mid 70's he was still churning out wonderful hit songs. Between the years of 1910 and 1934 he produced at least one hit song a year--that's 25 years of consecutive hits, an accomplishment never equaled by another song writer.

Berlin's life was more colorful than most Hollywood fantasies, but while he was alive he would never allow a movie to be made about him. He dug his way out of total, utter poverty as a young man to become vastly successful artistically and financially. He created a music publishing dynasty with his own publishing house that consisted of mostly his own songs. He built his own lavish Broadway playhouse "The Music Box Theater," that was the envy of all Broadway. He also married a woman who was the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in America, Ellen MacKay.

Berlin was a small man, introverted and quiet, a mediocre pianist with an only adequate voice. He could neither read nor write music. He dictated all of his compositions to his musical secretary. By his own description he said that perhaps his lack of musical education helped him write tunes that the common man could relate to. Whatever the formula or secret was, he left us with a legacy of songs that will be with us for many generations to come if not forever.

Alexander's Ragtime Band (1911}
When The Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabam’ (1912)
    * When I Lost You
    * Play A Simple Melody (1914)
    * A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody (1919)
    * Oh! How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning (1919)
    * All By Myself (1921)
    * All Alone
    * What’ll I Do (1924)
    * Always (1925)
    * Remember (1925)
    * Blue Skies (1927)
    * Russian Lullaby (1927)
    * The Song Is Ended (1927)
    * Puttin’ On The Ritz (1929)
    * Let Me Sing (1929)
    * Say It Isn’t So (1932)
    * How Deep Is The Ocean (1932)
    * Let’s Have Another Cup Of Coffee (1932)
    * Easter Parade (1933)
    * Heat Wave (1933)
    * Maybe It’s Because I Love You Too Much (1933)
    * Isn’t This A Lovely Day (1935)
    * Cheek to Cheek (1935)
    * I’ve got My Love to Keep Me Warm
    * I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket (1936)
    * Let’s Face The Music And Dance (1936)
    * Let Yourself Go (1936)
    * We Saw The Sea (1936)
    * Slummin’ On Park Avenue (1937)
    * Change Partners (1937)
    * God Bless America (1938)
    * What Chance Have I With Love (1940)
    * This Is The Army Mr. Jones (1942)
    * Happy Holiday (1942)
    * White Christmas (1942)
    * We Joined The Navy
    * Better Luck Next Time (F)
    * There’s No Business Like Show Business (1946)
    * I Got the sun in the Morning (1946)
    * Doing What Comes Naturally (1946)
    * You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun (1946)
    * Anything You Can Do (1946
    * Girl That I Marry (1946)
    * They Say It’s Wonderful (1946)
    * Steppin’ Out With My Baby (1947)
    * You’re Just In Love (1950)
Gee I Wish I Was Back In The Army

 Welcome to the section of my website that pays tribute to the core of wonderful composers whose songs have become the foundation for what are known as the America's popular Standards, also known as, "Evergreens" or "the Great American Songbook. My piano stage shows that I traveled with, featured a different composer each year. It was the funnest part of my musical career. 

If you have developed an appreciation for these songs, then you might enjoy reading about the composers who wrote them and to introduce you to the great body of their work.

America's great songwriters of the 20th Century

Harry Warren1893- 1981
If you're a movie buff, then you've “heard” Harry Warren, even if you haven't heard of him! This prolific composer wrote more than 400 songs for nearly 90 different movies. During the twenty-two year period, 1935 to 1957, a Harry Warren song was nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Song in a Motion Picture" ELEVEN times. This is the equivalent of once every other year for more than two decades! Three of these songs won "Oscars."

Here is a list of some of his hit tunes....

I Found a Million Dollar Baby (in a 5 and 10 cent store)
   * On the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (1945)*
    * You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby
    * You're Getting to be a Habit With Me
    * I Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much)
    * I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo (1942)
    * There Will Never be Another You
    * Chattanooga Choo Choo (1941)
    * With Plenty of Money and You
    * An Affair to Remember (1957).
    * Down Argentina Way (1940)
    * Boulevard of Broken Dreams
    * Lullaby of Broadway (1935).
    * Jeepers Creepers (1938)
    * You'll Never Know (1943)
    * I Had the Craziest Dream
    * We're in the Money(1933)
    *By the River Sainte Marie
    * I'll String Along With You
    * I Only Have Eyes for You
    * September in the Rain
    * Cheerful Little Earful
    * Lulu's Back in Town
    * Forty Second Street
    * That's Amore (1953)
    * Shuffle Off to Buffalo
    * You're My Everything
    * The More I See You
    * This Heart of Mine
    * Serenade in Blue
    * Shadow Waltz
    * Nagasaki
At Last

The Gershwins, George and Ira     

Gershwin songs have come to be regarded as one of the glories of American culture. They take their place alongside our greatest films, novels, architecture, and art. It’s been said that as long as anyone remembers anything about the 20th century, the Gershwin songs will remain alive.

Their parents migrated from Russia in the early 1890’s. They lived in the heart of the Jewish immigrant community on the lower east side of Manhattan. There were four children of which Ira and George were the oldest. After the brothers became successful they lived in adjoining penthouses in New York that served as their creative center.

George loved being surrounded by people and did much of his composing in the middle of parties. To hear George play was an uplifting experience. He had a very playful way of performing and emanated a charisma at the piano that made the listener feel good just to be in the room with him. George was largely self-taught. He studied piano formally only for a few years as a young teenager.

Ira’s lyric writing was slow, careful and determined. He never rested until he had exactly the lyric he was looking for. Sometimes spending days on a single line of a song. He strove for perfection. A real wordsmith, he liked to play with the English language. He often incorporated bad English and slang into his songs deliberately for effect.

Together they wrote some 754 songs over a twenty-year period, all for Broadway musicals. Many became big hits and still remain popular today. Jazz musicians have always enjoyed playing and exploring Gershwin songs. Their structure is especially adaptive to jazz. George himself loved to listen to jazz and enjoyed hearing musicians improvise on his tunes. George's use of “blue notes” in his pop songs and orchestra works was innovative in the 1920’s.

Ira continued working with other composers after George’s untimely death, at the young age of thirty-seven. Ira partnered himself with composers, Kurt Weil, Vernon Duke and Harold Arlen. His last hit song was with Arlen in 1954, “The Man That Got Away,” for the movie “ A Star is Born.”

A selection of Gershwin brothers Songs. . . 

    * Swanee (1919)
    * Lady Be Good (1924)
    * The Man I Love (1924)
    * Fascinating Rhythm (1924)
    * Somebody Loves Me(1924)
    * The Rhapsody In Blue (1924)
    * Someone To Watch Over Me (1926)
    * How Long Has This Been Going On?(1927)
    * He Loves, She Loves (1927)
    * S'Wonderful (1927)
    * I've Got A Crush On You (1928)
    * Liza (1929)
    * I’m Biddin’ My Time (1930)
    * Embraceable You(1930)
    * But Not For Me (1930)
    * I Got Rhythm (1930)
    * Who Cares? (1931)
    * Strike Up The Band (1931)
    * I Loves You Porgy (1935)
    * Got Plenty O' Nuttin' (1935)
    * Summertime (1935)
    * I Love To Rhyme (1936)
    * I’ve Got Beginers Luck (1936)
    * Shall We Dance (1937)
    * Slap That Bass (1937)
    * Love Is Here To Stay (1937)
    * Let's Call The Whole Thing Off (1937)
    * Nice Work If You Can Get It (1937)
    * They Can't Take That Away (1937)
    * I Can't Be Bothered Now (1937)

    * A Foggy Day (1937}
    * They All Laughed (1937) )
    * Isn’t It A Pity (1938)
       Love Walked Right In (1938)

Johnny Mercer (1909-1976)

Lazybones (1933) with Hoagy Carmichael
Goody Goody (1936) with Matt Malneck
Too Marvelous (1937) with Dick Whiting
Jeepers Creepers (1938) with Harry Warren
You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby (1938) with Harry Warren
I Thought About You (1939) with Jimmy Van Heusen
Day In, Day Out (1939) with Rube Bloom
Fools Rush In (1940) with Rube Bloom
Tangerine (1942) with Victor Sshertzinger
I Remember You (1942) with Victor Sshertzinger
Skylark (1942 with Hoagy Carmichael
Strip Polka (1942) words and Music Johnny Mercer
G.I.Jive (1943) words and Music Johnny Mercer
I’m Old Fashioned (1942) with Jerome Kern
Dream (1944) words and Music Johnny Mercer
Candy (1945) with Joan Whitney & Alex Krame
Laura (1945) with David Raskin
Atchison, Topeka & the Santa Fe (1946)
Autumn Leaves (1947) with Joseph Kosma
In the Cool of the Evening (1951) with Hoagy Carmichael
Glow Worm (1952 or 1902) with Paul Lincke
Somethings gotta Give (1954) words and Music Johnny Mercer
Satin Doll (1952 and 1958) with Duke Ellington
Midnight Sun with Lionel Hampton
Charade (1961) with Henry Mancini
Moon River (1961) with Henry Mancini
Days of Wine and Roses (1962) with Henry Mancini
I Wanna Be Around (1962) words and Music Johnny Mercer
Summer Wind (1965) with Henry Mancini

Hi Jazzy Players!  Welcome to the section of my website that pays tribute to the core of wonderful composers whose songs have become the foundation for what is known as the Great American Standards.

 The focus of my teaching on the Jazzy website has been to introduce you to a method for playing tunes like these in a way that jazz players have come to interpret them.  If you have developed an appreciation for these songs, here is a chance to learn about the composers who wrote them and to introduce you to the great body of their work.

Jimmy Van Heusen

1.The Second Time Around (Lyrics, Sammy Cahn) 1960
2. Here's That Rainy Day  (Lyrics, Johnny Burke) 1949
3. Sunday, Monday and Always (Lyrics, Johnny Burke) 1943
4. Like Someone in Love (Lyrics, Johnny Burke) 1943
5. Imagination (Lyrics, Johnny Burke) 1940
6. Moonlight Becomes You Lyrics, Johnny Burke) 1943
It Could Happen to You (Lyrics, Johnny Burke) 1944
 Aren't You Glad You're You (Lyrics, Johnny Burke)

1946 Come Dance With Me (Lyrics, Sammy Cahn) 1959
Somewhere Along the Way (1946)
Personality (Lyrics, Johnny Burke) 1946        
Come Fly With Me (Lyrics, Sammy Cahn)