Farewell Deanna Durbin

Deanna Durbin (born December 4, 1921) is a Canadian-born, Southern California-raised retired singer and actress, who appeared in a number of musical films in the 1930s and 1940s singing standards as well as operatic arias.

Durbin made her first film appearance in 1936 with Judy Garland in Every Sunday, and subsequently signed a contract with Universal Studios. Her success as the ideal teenage daughter in films such as Three Smart Girls (1936) was credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy.[1] In 1938 Durbin was awarded the Academy Juvenile Award.

“Amapola”

Later, as she matured, Durbin grew dissatisfied with the girl-next-door roles assigned to her, and attempted to portray a more womanly and sophisticated style. The film noir Christmas Holiday (1944) and the whodunit Lady on a Train (1945) were, however, not as well received as her musical comedies and romances had been.

Durbin withdrew from Hollywood and retired from acting and singing in 1949. She married film producer-director Charles Henri David in 1950, and the couple moved to a farmhouse in the outskirts of Paris. Since then she has withdrawn from public life. Born Edna Mae Durbin at Grace Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, she was given the professional name Deanna at the beginning of her association with Universal Studios in 1936, when she was still 14 years old. Her parents, James and Ada Durbin, were immigrants from Lancashire, England who would become U.S. citizens after moving their family from Winnipeg to Southern California in 1923. Durbin had an older sister named Edith, who recognized Deanna’s musical talents at an early age and helped Deanna to take singing lessons at Ralph Thomas Academy. This led to her discovery by MGM in 1935. In late 1936, Cesar Sturani, who was the General Music Secretary of the Metropolitan Opera, offered Deanna Durbin an audition. Durbin turned down his request because she felt she needed more singing lessons. Andrés de Segurola, who was the vocal coach working with Universal Studios (and himself a former Metropolitan Opera singer), believed that Deanna Durbin had an excellent opportunity to become an opera star. Andrés de Segurola had been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera to watch her progress carefully and keep them advised. Durbin started a collaboration with Eddie Cantor‘s radio show in 1936. This collaboration lasted until 1938 when her heavy workload for Universal Studios made it imperative for Durbin to discontinue her weekly appearances on Eddie Cantor’s radio show.[2]

“Lover”

Durbin signed a contract with MGM in 1935 and made her first film appearance in a short subject, Every Sunday (1936), with another young contract player, Judy Garland. The film was to serve as an extended screen test for the pair as studio executives were questioning the wisdom of having two female singers on the roster. Ultimately Louis B. Mayer decreed that both girls would be kept, but by the time that decision was made Durbin’s contract option had elapsed.[3]

Durbin was quickly signed to a contract with Universal Studios and made her first feature-length film Three Smart Girls in 1936. The huge success of her films was reported to have saved the studio from bankruptcy.[4] In 1938 she received a special Academy Juvenile Award, along with Mickey Rooney. Such was Durbin’s international fame and popularity that diarist Anne Frank pasted her picture to her bedroom wall in the Achterhuis where the Frank family hid during World War II. The picture can still be seen there today, and was pointed out by Frank’s friend Hannah Pick-Goslar in the documentary film Anne Frank Remembered.

Joe Pasternak who produced many of the early Deanna Durbin movies said about her:

“Deanna’s genius had to be unfolded, but it was hers and hers alone, always has been, always will be, and no one can take credit for discovering her. You can’t hide that kind of light under a bushel. You just can’t, no matter how hard you try!”

In 1936, Durbin auditioned to provide the vocals for Snow White in Disney’s animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but was ultimately rejected by Walt Disney, who declared the 15 year old Durbin’s voice “too old” for the part.[5]

“Every Sunday” with Judy Garland

Durbin is perhaps best known for her singing voice, variously described as being light but full, sweet, unaffected and artless. With the technical skill and vocal range of a legitimate lyric soprano, she performed everything from popular standards to operatic arias. Dame Sister Mary Leo in New Zealand was so taken with Durbin’s technique that she trained all her students to sing in this way. Sister Mary Leo produced a large number of famous sopranos including Dames Malvina Major and Kiri Te Kanawa.

The Russian cellist/conductor Mstislav Rostropovich in a late 1980s interview cited Deanna as one of his most important musical influences, stating: “She helped me in my discovery of myself. You have no idea of the smelly old movie houses I patronized to see Deanna Durbin. I tried to create the very best in my music, to try and recreate, to approach her purity.”[6]

Durbin was the heroine of two 1941 novels, Deanna Durbin and the Adventure of Blue Valley and Deanna Durbin and the Feather of Flame, both written by Kathryn Heisenfelt and published by Whitman Publishing Company. “The heroine has the same name and appearance as the famous actress but has no connection … it is as though the famous actress has stepped into an alternate reality in which she is an ordinary person.” The stories were probably written for a young teenage audience and are reminiscent of the adventures of Nancy Drew. They are part of a series known as “Whitman Authorized Editions”, 16 books published between 1941-1947 that featured a film actress as heroine.[7]

“Musetta’s Waltz” from La Bohem

Between December 15, 1936 and July 22, 1947, Deanna Durbin recorded 50 tunes for Decca Records. While often re-creating her movie songs for commercial release, Durbin also covered independent standards, like “Kiss Me Again”, “My Hero”, “Annie Laurie“, “Poor Butterfly“, “Love’s Old Sweet Song” and “God Bless America“.

The star-making five-year association of Deanna Durbin, producer Joe Pasternak and director Henry Koster ended following the film It Started With Eve in 1941. After Pasternak moved from Universal to MGM, Durbin went on suspension between October 16, 1941 and early February 1942 for refusing to appear in They Lived Alone, scheduled to be directed by Koster. Ultimately, the project was canceled when Durbin and Universal settled their differences. In the agreement, Universal conceded to Durbin the approval of her directors, stories and songs.[8]

Durbin married an assistant director, Vaughn Paul, in 1941 and they were divorced in 1943. Her second marriage, to film writer-producer-actor Felix Jackson in 1945, produced a daughter, Jessica Louise Jackson, and ended in divorce in 1949.

In private life, Durbin continued to use her given name; salary figures printed annually by the Hollywood trade publications listed the actress as “Edna Mae Durbin, player.” Her studio continued to cast her in musicals, and filmed two sequels to her original success, Three Smart Girls. The second sequel was a wartime story called Three Smart Girls Join Up, but Durbin issued a press release announcing that she was no longer inclined to participate in these team efforts and was now performing as a solo artist. The Three Smart Girls Join Up title was changed to Hers to Hold. Joseph Cotten, who played alongside Deanna Durbin in Hers to Hold, praised her integrity and character in his autobiography.[9]

“When You’re Away”

She made her only Technicolor film in 1944, Can’t Help Singing, featuring some of the last melodies written by Jerome Kern plus lyrics by E. Y. Harburg. A musical comedy in a Western setting, this production was filmed mostly on location in southern Utah. Her co-star was Robert Paige, who is better known for his work in television dramas in the 1950s.[10]

“Begin The Beguine”

Durbin tried to assume a more sophisticated movie persona in such vehicles as the World War II story of refugee children from China, The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (1943), directed in part by Jean Renoir, who left the project before its completion; the film noir Christmas Holiday (1944), directed by Robert Siodmak, and the whodunit Lady on a Train (1945), but her substantial fan base preferred her in light musical confections.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s groundbreaking Broadway production of Oklahoma! in 1943 might have showcased Deanna Durbin as original Laurie, but Universal refused to accept the proposal.

In 1945 and 1947, Deanna Durbin was the top-salaried woman in the United States. Her fan club ranked as the world’s largest during her active years.

In 1946, her employers merged with two other companies to create Universal-International, and the new regime discontinued much of Universal’s familiar product and scheduled only a few musicals. Durbin stayed on for another four pictures, but her two releases of 1948, Up in Central Park, a film adaptation of the 1945 Broadway musical, and then what became her last feature, For the Love of Mary, saw her international box-office clout diminish. On August 22, 1948, two months after the latter film was finished, Universal-International announced a lawsuit which sought to collect from Durbin $87,083 in wages the studio had paid her in advance.[11] Durbin settled the complaint amicably by agreeing to star in three more pictures, including one to be shot on location in Paris. Ultimately, the studio would allow Deanna’s contract to expire on August 31, 1949, so the three films were not produced. Durbin, who obtained a $200,000 ($1,842,577 as of 2011),[12] severance payment[13] chose at this point to retire from movie making, already having turned down Bing Crosby‘s request for her to appear in his 1949 attractions for Paramount Pictures: Top o’ the Morning and/or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

“Can’t Help Singin”

In Paris on December 21, 1950, Deanna Durbin, shortly after turning 29 years old, married Charles David, the producer-director of both French and American pictures who had guided her through Lady on a Train (1945). Durbin and David raised two children: Jessica (from her second marriage to Felix Jackson) and Peter (from her union with David).

Over the years, Durbin resisted numerous offers to perform again, including two choice proposals by MGM, asking her to take the female lead in the screen version of Cole Porter‘s Kiss Me Kate (1953), and to costar with Mario Lanza in Sigmund Romberg‘s operetta, The Student Prince (1954). As for stage shows, Durbin had been invited to play Kiss Me Kate ‘s Lilli Vanessi in London’s 1951-52 West End production, and reportedly, Alan Jay Lerner first had Deanna in mind to portray Eliza Doolittle in the 1956 Broadway cast of My Fair Lady. Suggestions that Durbin vocalize at the major Las Vegas casinos went unfulfilled.

She granted only one interview in 1983, to film historian David Shipman, steadfastly asserting her right to privacy. She maintains that privacy today, declining to be profiled on Internet websites.[14]

“Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s opera, Turandot.

However, Durbin has made it known that she did not like the Hollywood studio system. She has emphasized that she never identified herself with the public image that the media created around her. She speaks of the Deanna “persona” in the third person and considers the film character Deanna Durbin a by-product of her youth and not her true self.[15]

Durbin’s husband of over 48 years, Charles David, died in Paris on March 1, 1999.

Deanna Durbin has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1722 Vine Street.

Frank Tashlin‘s 1937 Warner Bros. cartoon The Woods are Full of Cuckoos contains an avian caricature of Deanna Durbin called “Deanna Terrapin”.

Durbin’s name found its way into the introduction to a song written by satirical writer Tom Lehrer in 1965. Prior to singing “Whatever Became of Hubert?”, Lehrer said that Vice President Hubert Humphrey had been relegated to “those where-are-they-now columns: Whatever became of Deanna Durbin, and Hubert Humphrey, and so on.”

She is mentioned in Richard Brautigan‘s novel Trout Fishing in America, when the narrator claims to have seen one of her movies seven times, but can’t recall which one.[16]

Sources: Wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com

Film credits
Title↓ Year↓ Role↓ Notes
Every Sunday 1936 Edna short subject (opposite Judy Garland)
Three Smart Girls 1936 Penelope “Penny” Craig Academy Juvenile Award
One Hundred Men and a Girl 1937 Patricia Cardwell
Mad About Music 1938 Gloria Harkinson
That Certain Age 1938 Alice Fullerton
Three Smart Girls Grow Up 1939 Penny Craig
For Auld Lang Syne: No. 4 1939 Herself short subject
First Love 1939 Constance “Connie” Harding
It’s a Date 1940 Pamela Drake a short subject, Gems of Song, was excerpted from this feature in 1949
Spring Parade 1940 Ilonka Tolnay
Nice Girl? 1941 Jane “Pinky” Dana
Friend Indeed, AA Friend Indeed 1941 Herself short subject for the American Red Cross
It Started with Eve 1941 Anne Terry
Amazing Mrs. Holliday, TheThe Amazing Mrs. Holliday 1943 Ruth Kirke Holliday
Show Business at War 1943 Herself short subject
Hers to Hold 1943 Penny Craig
His Butler’s Sister 1943 Ann Carter
Road to Victory 1944 Herself short subject
Christmas Holiday 1944 Jackie Lamont/Abigail Martin
Can’t Help Singing 1944 Caroline Frost her only film in Technicolor
Lady on a Train 1945 Nikki Collins/Margo Martin
Because of Him 1946 Kim Walker
I’ll Be Yours 1947 Louise Ginglebusher
Something in the Wind 1947 Mary Collins
Up in Central Park 1948 Rosie Moore
For the Love of Mary 1948 Mary Peppertree

Deanna Durbin songs

  • A Heart That’s Free [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Alice Blue Gown
  • Alleluia [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Always [From “Christmas Holiday”]
  • Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)
  • Amapola [From “First Love”]
  • Annie Laurie
  • Any Moment Now [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Ave Maria [From “Mad About Music”]
  • Ave Maria [From “It’s a Date”]
  • Be A Good Scout [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Because [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • Begin the Beguine [From “Hers to Hold”]
  • Beneath the Lights of Home [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Brahms’ Lullaby [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • Brindisi (Libiamo ne’ lieti calici) [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Californ-I-Ay
  • Can’t Help Singing [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Can’t Help Singing (Deanna Durbin & Robert Paige) [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Carmena Waltz
  • Chapel Bells [From “Mad About Music”]
  • Cielito Lindo (Beautiful Heaven)
  • Ciribiribin
  • Clavelitos (J. Valverde) [From “It Started with Eve”]
  • Danny Boy [From “Because of Him”]
  • Embrace Me
  • Every Sunday (with Judy Garland)
  • Filles de Cadiz (The Maids of Cadiz) [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Gimme a Little Kiss, Will Ya, Huh? [From “Lady on a Train”]
  • God Bless America
  • Goin’ Home [From “It Started With Eve”]
  • Goodbye [From “Because of Him”]
  • Granada [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • Home! Sweet Home! [From “First Love”]
  • Il Bacio (The Kiss) [From “Three Smart Girls”]
  • I’ll Follow My Sweet Heart
  • I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • I’ll See You In My Dreams
  • I Love to Whistle [From “Mad About Music”]
  • (I’m) Happy Go Lucky and Free [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • (I’m) Happy Go Lucky and Free [From “Something in the Wind”] (Deanna Durbin & Donald O’Connor)
  • In the Spirit of the Moment [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • Italian Street Song
  • It’s a Big, Wide, Wonderful World [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • It’s Dreamtime [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • It’s Foolish But It’s Fun [From “Spring Parade”]
  • It’s Only Love [From “Something In The Wind”]
  • It’s Raining Sunbeams [From “100 Men and a Girl”]
  • Invitation To The Dance [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • Je Veux Vivre (from Roméo et Juliette) [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Kiss Me Again
  • La Estrellita (Little Star)
  • Largo Al Factotum (from The Barber of Seville) [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • Loch Lomond [From “It’s a Date”]
  • Love At Last [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Love Is All [From “It’s a Date”]
  • Lover [From “Because of Him”]
  • Love’s Old Sweet Song
  • Make Believe (Jerome Kern song)
  • Molly Malone
  • More and More [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • More And More/Can’t Help Singing [From “Can`t Help Singing”]
  • Musetta’s Waltz (from La bohème) [From “It’s a Date”]
  • My Heart Is Singing [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • My Hero
  • My Own [From “That Certain Age”]
  • Nessun Dorma (from Turandot) [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • Never in a Million Years/Make Believe
  • Night and Day [From “Lady on a Train”]
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Old Folks at Home [From “Nice Girl”]
  • On Moonlight Bay [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • One Fine Day (from Madama Butterfly) [From “First Love”]
  • One Night Of Love
  • Pace, Pace, Mio Dio (La forza del destino) [From “Up In Central Park”]
  • Pale Hands I Loved (Kashmiri Song) [From “Hers to Hold”]
  • Perhaps [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Poor Butterfly
  • Russian Medley [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • Sari Waltz (Love’s Own Sweet Song) [From “I’ll Be Yours”]
  • Say a Pray’r for the Boys Over There [From “Hers to Hold”]
  • Seal It With a Kiss
  • Seguidilla (from Carmen) [From “Hers To Hold”]
  • Serenade to the Stars [From “Mad About Music”]
  • Silent Night [From “Lady On A Train”]
  • Someone to Care for Me [From “Three Smart Girls”]
  • Something in the Wind [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • Spring in My Heart [From “First Love”]
  • Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year [From “Christmas Holiday”]
  • Swanee – Old Folks At Home [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Summertime (from Porgy And Bess)
  • Sweetheart
  • Thank You America [From “Nice Girl”]
  • The Blue Danube [From “Spring Parade”]
  • The Last Rose of Summer [From “Three Smart Girls Grow Up”]
  • The Old Refrain [From “The Amazing Mrs. Holiday”]
  • The Prince
  • The Turntable Song [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • There’ll Always Be An England [From “Nice Girl”]
  • Two Guitars [“Две гитары” – Russian Gypsy Folk song (Lyrics – Apollon Grigoriev, music – Ivan Vasiliev), from “His Butler’s Sister” (1943)]
  • Two Hearts
  • Un bel di vedremo (from Madama Butterfly) [From “First Love”]
  • Viennese Waltz [From “For The Love Of Mary”]
  • Vissi d’arte (from Tosca) [From “The Amazing Mrs. Holiday”]
  • Waltzing in the Clouds [From “Spring Parade”]
  • When April Sings [From “Spring Parade”]
  • When I Sing [From “It Started with Eve”]
  • When The Roses Bloom Again
  • When You’re Away [From “His Butler’s Sister”]
  • You Wanna Keep Your Baby Looking Nice, Don’t You [From “Something in the Wind”]
  • You’re As Pretty As A Picture [From “That Certain Age”]
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Patty Andrews

31andrews-trio-articleLarge

Patty is center in the photo

Patty Andrews, the last of the Andrews Sisters, the jaunty vocal trio whose immensely popular music became part of the patriotic fabric of World War II America, died on Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 94. Lynda Wells, a niece, confirmed the death.

With their jazzy renditions of songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B),” “Rum and Coca-Cola”and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me),” Patty, Maxene and LaVerne Andrews sold war bonds, boosted morale on the home front, performed withBing Crosby and with theGlenn Miller Orchestra, made movies and entertained thousands of American troops overseas, for whom the women represented the loves and the land the troops had left behind.

imagesPatty, the youngest, was a soprano and sang lead; Maxene handled the high harmony; and LaVerne, the oldest, took the low notes. They began singing together as children; by the time they were teenagers they made up an accomplished vocal group. Modeling their act on the commercially successful Boswell Sisters, they joined a traveling revue and sang at county fairs and in vaudeville shows. Their big break came in 1937 when they were signed by Decca Records, but their first recording went nowhere.

Their second effort featured the popular standard “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” but it was the flip side that turned out to be pure gold. The song was a Yiddish show tune,“Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (Means That You’re Grand),” with new English lyrics bySammy Cahn, and the Andrews Sisters’ version, recorded in 1937, became the top-selling record in the country.

Other hits followed, and in 1940 they were signed by Universal Pictures. They appeared in more than a dozen films during the next seven years — sometimes just singing, sometimes also acting. They made their film debut in “Argentine Nights,” a 1940 comedy that starred the Ritz Brothers, and the next year appeared in three films with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello:“Buck Privates,” “In the Navy”and “Hold That Ghost.” Their film credits also include “Swingtime Johnny” (1943), “Hollywood Canteen” (1944) and the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby comedy “Road to Rio” (1947).

images-1After selling more than 75 million records, the Andrews Sisters broke up in 1953 when Patty decided to go solo. By 1956 they were together again, but musical tastes were changing and they found it hard to adapt. When LaVerne Andrews died of cancer in 1967, no suitable replacement could be found, and Patty and Maxene soon went their separate ways. Patty continued to perform solo, and Maxene joined the staff of a private college in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Patricia Marie Andrews was born on Feb. 16, 1918, in Minneapolis. Her father, Peter, was a Greek immigrant who changed his name from Andreos to Andrews when he came to America. Her mother, Olga, was Norwegian.

Like her older sisters, Patty learned to love music as a child (she also became a good tap dancer), and she did not have to be persuaded when Maxene suggested that the sisters form a trio in 1932. She was 14 when they began to perform in public.

As their fame and fortune grew, the sisters came to realize that the public saw them as an entity, not as individuals. In a 1974 interview with The New York Times, Patty explained what that was like: “When our fans used to see one of us, they’d always ask, ‘Where are your sisters?’ Every time we got an award, it was just one award for the three of us.” This could be irritating, she said with a touch of exasperation: “We’re not glued together.”

The Andrews Sisters re-entered the limelight in the early 1970s when Bette Midler releasedher own recording of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” modeled closely on theirs. It reached the Top 10, and its success led to several new compilations of the Andrews Sisters’ own hits.

pattyandrews-4_3_r536_c534The previous year, Patty Andrews had appeared in a West Coast musical called “Victory Canteen,” set during World War II. When the show was rewritten for Broadway and renamed “Over Here!,” the producers decided that the Andrews Sisters were the only logical choice for the leads. They hired Patty and lured Maxene back into show business as well. The show opened in March 1974 and was the sisters’ belated Broadway debut. It was also the last time they sang together.

The sisters got into a bitter money dispute with the producers and with each other, leading to the show’s closing in January 1975 and the cancellation of plans for a national tour. After that, the sisters pursued solo careers into the 1990s. They never reconciled and were still estranged when Maxene Andrews died in 1995.

Patty Andrews’s first marriage, to the movie producer Marty Melcher, lasted two years and ended in divorce in 1949. (Mr. Melcher later married Doris Day.) In 1951 she married Wally Weschler, who had been the sisters’ pianist and conductor and who later became her manager. They had no children. Mr. Weschler died in 2010. Ms. Andrews is survived by her foster daughter, Pam DuBois.

A final salute to the Andrews Sisters came in 1991 in the form of “Company B,” a ballet by the choreographer Paul Taylor subtitled “Songs Sung by the Andrews Sisters.” The work, which featured nine of the trio’s most popular songs, including “Rum and Coca-Cola” and, of course, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” underscored the enduring appeal of the three sisters from Minneapolis.

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Sources: ROBERT BERKVIST, YouTube, IMDB.com

Marvin Hamlisch

By Robert Simonson
Playbill.com 07 Aug 2012

Marvin Hamlisch, who achieved theatre immortality as the composer of the iconic musical A Chorus Line, died Aug. 7 following a brief illness. He was 68.

Mr. Hamlisch’s other theatre works included the musicals They’re Playing Our Song, Jean Seberg, Smile, The Goodbye Girl and Sweet Smell of Success. He also wrote songs for Nora Ephron‘s playImaginary Friends. His latest show, The Nutty Professor, recently opened in Tennessee. But it was with the groundbreaking A Chorus Line—which told of the frustrations and worries of a group of anonymous dancers trying out for a Broadway musical—that he made his mark as a theatre figure.

He was already famous as an all-around wunderkind when he began work onA Chorus Line. A child prodigy, he was accepted into Juilliard at the age of six—the youngest child ever to be welcomed by the august Manhattan institution. His first Broadway job was as rehearsal pianist for Funny Girlstarring Barbra Streisand—a professional relationship that would last his entire life. Producer Sam Spiegel hired him to play piano at his parties, where he made connections, leading to his writing his first film score, for “The Swimmer” starring Burt Lancaster. Many more film scores followed.

It seemed his fate to brush up against show-business legends while on his way up the ladder. He wrote songs for Liza Minnelli, worked with Judy Garland and was accompanist and straight man for Groucho Marx during a 1974-75 tour.

“The Entertainer”

Professional acknowledgment came easy in his early years. Before he was 30, he had received three Oscars, for his score and song to “The Way We Were” and his adaptations of Scott Joplin ragtime tunes in “The Sting,” which helped usher in a Joplin revival. And that was all in 1973. He began to be a regular guest on talk shows and was called “the best-known movie composer since Henry Mancini.”

Mr. Hamlisch is one of only 11 people to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award. On top of this, he also won the Pulitzer Prize for A Chorus Line.Aside from director-choreographer Michael Bennett, Mr. Hamlisch was by far the most accomplished and famous artist invited to participate in the creation of A Chorus Line. The unorthodox show—a prime example of what came to be known as the “concept musical”—derived from 30 hours of taped confessions of a group of theatre gypsies and chorines. From these recordings, Bennett shaped a show about the strivings, hopes, dreams and fears of the unsung and uncelebrated members of the theatre community. The show was trail-blazing in eschewing a linear plot, dealing with contemporary issues such as homosexuality and abortion in frank terms, and lacking a single headlining star.

“One” from “Chorus Line”

Hamlisch was drafted by Bennett and paired with the fussy, eccentric lyricist Ed Kleban, a former executive at Columbia Records with no previous theatre credits. It was an odd couple pairing if there ever was one, but it produced a timeless result. The score was episodic, with each song telling the life story of one or more characters. The show included two modern classics: the hopeful “What I Did for Love,” which Kleban and Mr. Hamlisch reportedly wrote under protest, as they considered it a commercial “sell-out” number; and “One,” the show’s finale. It’s throbbing, hop-step opening vamp is one of the best known theatre anthems in musical history, and is known to millions.

“The Way We Were”

Marvin Hamlisch was born June 2, 1944, into a musical family. His father Max Hamlisch was an accordionist and band leader. He began playing piano when he was five. “I started studying music at the age of five and a half,” he remembered later. “My older sister was taking piano lessons. When her teacher left our apartment, I would get up on the piano bench and start picking out the notes that were part of my sister’s lessons.” His song “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows,” written while he was a teenager, was a hit for Lesley Gore in 1963.

He followed up A Chorus Line with another hit, though one of a far smaller scale. They’re Playing Our Song had lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager and a book by Neil Simon. The two-character musical was based on the real-life relationship between Hamlisch and Sager, and follows the two mismatched songwriters—he is focused and all business, she is flightily and distracted—as they go through a series of bumps in forging both a professional and romantic relationship. After a tryout in Los Angeles, it ran for two-and-a-half years on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical.

 

“Tits and Ass” Chorus Line

Mr. Hamlisch’s untrammeled string of successes during the 1970s were such that he had a hard time following them up. The next 30 years of his career were something of an anti-climax. That A Chorus Line proved one of the greatest popular successes of all time, and was accorded the title of “genius work” by critics, meant no other show he composed could quite measure up.Jean Seberg, a musical about the life of the actress, failed in London and never came to New York. The Broadway runs of Smile (1986) and The Goodbye Girl (1993) were both underwhelming. Sweet Smell of Success(2002), based on the classic 1950s film about Broadway’s seamy underbelly, ran only two months.

His many film scores included “Ordinary People,” “Sophie’s Choice,” “Three Men and a Baby,” “Ice Castles,” “Take the Money and Run” and “The Informant!” He co-wrote the song “Nobody Does It Better” for the movie “The Spy Who Loved Me.”

In recent years, he composed some classical works, and frequently conducted major symphony orchestras.

Other Sources: YouTube, IMDB.com

Jack Teagarden

Weldon Leo “Jack” Teagarden

(August 20, 1905 – January 15, 1964), known as “Big T” and “The Swingin’ Gate”, was a jazztrombonist, bandleader, composer, and vocalist, regarded as the “Father of Jazz Trombone”.[1] 

Born in Vernon, Texas, his brothers Charlie and Clois “Cub” and his sister Norma also became noted professional musicians. Teagarden’s father was an amateur brass band trumpeter and started young Jack on baritone horn; by age seven he had switched totrombone. He first heard jazz music played by the Louisiana Five and decided to play in the new style.

Teagarden’s trombone style was largely self-taught, and he developed many unusual alternative positions and novel special effects on the instrument. He is usually considered the most innovative jazz trombone stylist of the pre-bebop era, and did much to expand the role of the instrument beyond the old tailgate style role of the early New Orleans brass bands. Chief among his contributions to the language of jazz trombonists was his ability to interject the blues or merely a “blue feeling” into virtually any piece of music.

By 1920 Teagarden was playing professionally in San Antonio, including with the band of pianist Peck Kelley. In the mid 1920s he started traveling widely around the United States in a quick succession of different bands. In 1927, he went to New York City where he worked with several bands. By 1928 he played for the Ben Pollack band.

Within a year of the commencement of his recording career, he became a regular vocalist, first doing blues material (“Beale Street Blues“, for example), and later doing popular songs. He is often mentioned as one of the best white male jazz vocalists of the era; his singing style is quite like his trombone playing, in terms of improvisation (in the same way that Louis Armstrong sang quite like he played trumpet). His singing is best remembered for duets with Louis Armstrong and Johnny Mercer.

“Stars Fell On Alabama”

In the late 1920s he recorded with such notable bandleaders and sidemen as Louis ArmstrongBenny GoodmanBix Beiderbecke,Red NicholsJimmy McPartlandMezz MezzrowGlenn Miller, and Eddie Condon. Glenn Miller and Teagarden collaborated to provide lyrics and a verse to Spencer Williams’ Basin Street Blues, which in that amended form became one of the numbers that Teagarden played until the end of his days.

“Jeepers Creepers” With Louis Armstrong

In the early 1930s Teagarden was based in Chicago, for some time playing with the band of Wingy Manone. He played at theCentury of Progress exposition in Chicago. Teagarden sought financial security during the Great Depression and signed an exclusive contract to play for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra from 1933 through 1938. The contract with Whiteman’s band provided him with financial security but prevented him from playing an active part in the musical advances of the mid-thirties swing era.

Teagarden then started leading his own big bandGlenn Miller wrote the song “I Swung the Election” for him and his band in 1939.[2] In spite of Teagarden’s best efforts, the band was not a commercial success, and he was brought to the brink of bankruptcy.

In 1946 Teagarden joined Louis Armstrong‘s All Stars. Armstrong and Teagarden’s work together shows a wonderful rapport, in particular their duet on “Rockin’ Chair”. In late 1951 Teagarden left to again lead his own band, then co-led a band with Earl Hines, then again with a group under his own name with whom he toured Japan in 1958 and 1959.

“Peg O’ My Heart”

Teagarden appeared in the movies Birth of the Blues (1941), The Strip (1951), The Glass Wall (1953), and Jazz on a Summer’s Day(1960), the latter a documentary film of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. He was an admired recording artist, featured on RCA Victor,ColumbiaDeccaCapitol, and MGM Records discs. As a jazz artist he won the 1944 Esquire magazine Gold Award, was highly rated in the Metronome polls of 1937-42 and 1945, and was selected for the Playboy magazine All Star Band, 1957-60.

Teagarden was the featured performer at the Newport Jazz Festival of 1957. Saturday Review wrote in 1964 that he “walked with artistic dignity all his life,” and the same year Newsweek praised his “mature approach to trombone jazz.”

“I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues”

Richard M. Sudhalter writes (in ‘Lost Chords: White Musicians and Their Contribution to Jazz’, Oxford University Press, 1999): “The late trumpet player Don Goldie, who spent four years in Teagarden’s band and had known him since childhood said that he ‘always got a feeling that a lot of happiness was locked away inside Jack, really padlocked, and never came out…”

“Jack Teagarden died, alone, of a heart attack complicated by bronchial pneumonia in his room at the Prince Conti Hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans on January 15, 1964. He was only 58. “I sometimes think people like Jack were just go-betweens,” Bobby Hackett told a friend. “The Good Lord said, ‘Now you go and show ’em what it is’, and he did. I think everybody familiar with Jack Teagarden knows that he was something that happens just once. It won’t happen again. Not that way…”

“…Connie Jones, the New Orleans cornetist working with Jack Teagarden at the time of the trombonist’s death, was a pallbearer for the wake, held at a funeral parlor on leafy St. Charles Avenue: ‘I remember seeing him there in a coffin, a travelling coffin. They were going to fly him to Los Angeles for burial right after that. The coffin was open and I remember thinking ‘Boy he really looks uncomfortable in there’.

“‘Not that he was that tall. Maybe five foot ten or so, at most. But he was kinda wide across the shoulders – and most of all he just gave you the impression he was a big man, in every way. In that coffin, – well, I can’t really explain it, but he seemed to be scrunched up into a space that was too small to contain him'”.

He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California.

The coda of Teagarden’s recording career is the album Think Well of Me, recorded in January 1962 and made up of his singing and trombone playing, accompanied by strings, on compositions by his old musical associate Willard Robison: available on Verve CD 314 557 101-2.

Jack Teagarden’s compositions included “I’ve Got ‘It'” with David Rose, “Shake Your Hips”, “Big T Jump”, “Swingin’ on the Teagarden Gate”, “Blues After Hours”, “A Jam Session at Victor”, “It’s So Good”, “Pickin’ For Patsy” with Allan Reuss, “Texas Tea Party” with Benny Goodman, “I’m Gonna Stomp Mr. Henry Lee” with Eddie Condon, “Big T Blues”, “Dirty Dog”, “Makin’ Friends” with Jimmy McPartland, “That’s a Serious Thing”, and “Jack-Armstrong Blues” with Louis Armstrong, recorded on December 7, 1944 with the V-Disc All-Stars and released as V-Disc 384A.

Sources: YouTube, IMDB.com, NMDB.com, Wikipedia

Farewell Etta James

Etta James, whose powerful, versatile and emotionally direct voice could enliven the raunchiest blues as well as the subtlest love songs, most indelibly in her signature hit, “At Last,” died Friday morning in Riverside, Calif. She was 73.

Her manager, Lupe De Leon, said that the cause was complications of leukemia. Ms. James, who died at Riverside Community Hospital, had been undergoing treatment for some time for a number of conditions, including leukemia and dementia. She also lived in Riverside.

Ms. James was not easy to pigeonhole. She is most often referred to as a rhythm and blues singer, and that is how she made her name in the 1950s with records like “Good Rockin’ Daddy.” She is in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame.

She was also comfortable, and convincing, singing pop standards, as she did in 1961 with “At Last,” which was written in 1941 and originally recorded by Glenn Miller’s orchestra. And among her four Grammy Awards (including a lifetime-achievement honor in 2003) was one for best jazz vocal performance, which she won in 1995 for the album “Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday.”

Regardless of how she was categorized, she was admired. Expressing a common sentiment, Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote in 1990 that she had “one of the great voices in American popular music, with a huge range, a multiplicity of tones and vast reserves of volume.”

“At Last”

For all her accomplishments, Ms. James had an up-and-down career, partly because of changing audience tastes but largely because of drug problems. She developed a heroin habit in the 1960s; after she overcame it in the 1970s, she began using cocaine. She candidly described her struggles with addiction and her many trips to rehab in her autobiography, “Rage to Survive,” written with David Ritz (1995).

Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles on Jan. 25, 1938. Her mother, Dorothy Hawkins, was 14 at the time; her father was long gone, and Ms. James never knew for sure who he was, although she recalled her mother telling her that he was the celebrated pool player Rudolf Wanderone, better known as Minnesota Fats. She was reared by foster parents and moved to San Francisco with her mother when she was 12.

She began singing at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Los Angeles at 5 and turned to secular music as a teenager, forming a vocal group with two friends. She was 15 when she made her first record, “Roll With Me Henry,” which set her own lyrics to the tune of Hank Ballard and the Midnighters’ recent hit “Work With Me Annie.” When some disc jockeys complained that the title was too suggestive, the name was changed to “The Wallflower,” although the record itself was not.

“The Wallflower” rose to No. 2 on the rhythm-and-blues charts in 1954. As was often the case in those days with records by black performers, a toned-down version was soon recorded by a white singer and found a wider audience: Georgia Gibbs’s version, with the title and lyric changed to “Dance With Me, Henry,” was a No. 1 pop hit in 1955. (Its success was not entirely bad news for Ms. James. She shared the songwriting royalties with Mr. Ballard and the bandleader and talent scout Johnny Otis, who had arranged for her recording session. (Mr. Otis died on Tuesday.)

“I’d Rather Go Blind”

In 1960 Ms. James was signed by Chess Records, the Chicago label that was home to Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and other leading lights of black music. She quickly had a string of hits, including “All I Could Do Was Cry,” “Trust in Me” and “At Last,” which established her as Chess’s first major female star.

She remained with Chess well into the 1970s, reappearing on the charts after a long absence in 1967 with the funky and high-spirited “Tell Mama.” In the late ’70s and early ’80s she was an opening act for the Rolling Stones.

After decades of touring, recording for various labels and drifting in and out of the public eye, Ms. James found herself in the news in 2009 after Beyoncé Knowles recorded a version of “At Last” closely modeled on hers. (Ms. Knowles played Ms. James in the 2008 movie “Cadillac Records,” a fictionalized account of the rise and fall of Chess.) Ms. Knowles also performed “At Last” at an inaugural ball for President Obama in Washington.

When the movie was released, Ms. James had kind words for Ms. Knowles’s portrayal. But in February 2009, referring specifically to the Washington performance, she told an audience, “I can’t stand Beyoncé,” and threatened to “whip” the younger singer for singing “At Last.” She later said she had been joking, but she did add that she wished she had been invited to sing the song herself for the new president.

Ms. James’s survivors include her husband of 42 years, Artis Mills; two sons, Donto and Sametto James; and four grandchildren.

Though her life had its share of troubles to the end — her husband and sons were locked in a long-running battle over control of her estate, which was resolved in her husband’s favor only weeks before her death — Ms. James said she wanted her music to transcend unhappiness rather than reflect it.

“Something’s Got A Hold On Me”

“A lot of people think the blues is depressing,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 1992, “but that’s not the blues I’m singing. When I’m singing blues, I’m singing life. People that can’t stand to listen to the blues, they’ve got to be phonies.”

Sources: PETER KEEPNEWS, New York Times, youtube, imdb.com, nmdb.com

Leroy Anderson

Leroy Anderson (June 29, 1908 – May 18, 1975) was an American composer of short, light concert pieces, many of which were introduced by the Boston Pops Orchestra under the direction of Arthur FiedlerJohn Williams described him as “one of the great American masters of light orchestral music.”[1] 

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Swedish parents, Anderson was given his first piano lessons by his mother, who was a church organist. He continued studying piano at theNew England Conservatory of Music. In 1925 Anderson entered Harvard University, where he studied theory with Walter Spalding, counterpoint with Edward Ballantine, harmony with George Enescu, composition with Walter Piston and double bass with Gaston Dufresne. He also studied organ with Henry Gideon. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1929 and Master of Arts in 1930.

Anderson continued studying at Harvard, working towards a PhD in German and Scandinavian languages. (Anderson spoke English and Swedish during his youth but he eventually became fluent in Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, German, French, Italian, and Portuguese.) During this time he was also working as organist and choir director at the East Milton Congregational Church, leading the Harvard University Band, and conducting and arranging for dance bands around Boston. His arranging work came to the attention of Arthur Fiedler in 1936 and Anderson was asked to show Fiedler any original compositions.[2] Anderson’s first work was Jazz Pizzicato in 1938.[3] Fiedler suggested that a companion piece be written and thus Anderson wrote Jazz Legato in 1938.[4]

In 1942 Leroy Anderson joined the U.S. Army, and was assigned to Iceland as a translator and interpreter. Later in 1945 he was assigned to The Pentagon as Chief of the Scandinavian Desk of Military Intelligence. But his duties did not prevent him from composing, and in 1945 he wrote “The Syncopated Clock[5] and “Promenade.” Anderson was a reserve officer and was recalled to active duty for the Korean War. In 1951 Anderson wrote his first hit, “Blue Tango,” earning a Golden Disc and the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts.

His pieces and his recordings during the fifties conducting a studio orchestra were immense commercial successes. “Blue Tango” was the first instrumental recording ever to sell one million copies. His most famous pieces are probably “Sleigh Ride” and “The Syncopated Clock”, both of which are instantly recognizable to millions of people. In 1950, WCBS-TV in New York City selected “Syncopated Clock” as the theme song for The Late Show/ the WCBS late-night movie. Mitchell Parish added words to “Syncopated Clock”, and later wrote lyrics for other Anderson tunes, including “Sleigh Ride”, which was not written as a Christmas piece, but as a work that describes a winter event. Anderson started the work during a heat wave in August 1946. The Boston Pops’ recording of it was the first pure orchestral piece to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Music chart.[6] From 1952 to 1961, Anderson’s composition “Plink, Plank, Plunk!” was used as the theme for the CBS panel show I’ve Got A Secret.

Anderson’s musical style employs creative instrumental effects and occasionally makes use of sound-generating items such as typewriters and sandpaper. (Krzysztof Pendereckialso uses a typewriter in his orchestral music, in “Fluorescences,” but with a decidedly less humorous effect.)

“Sleigh Ride” performed by Ella Fitzgerald

“Forgotten Dreams”

Anderson wrote his Piano Concerto in C in 1953 but withdrew it, feeling that it had weak spots. In 1988 the Anderson family decided to publish the work. Erich Kunzel and theCincinnati Pops Orchestra released the first recording of this work; three other recordings have since been released. It is a conservative Romantic work in sonata form, heavily influenced by Rachmaninoff and American popular music, and somewhat resembles Copland‘s tonal works in style.

“Typewriter Song”

In 1958, Anderson composed the music for the Broadway show Goldilocks with orchestrations by Philip J. Lang. Even though it earned two Tony awards, Goldilocks did not achieve commercial success. Anderson never wrote another musical, preferring instead to continue writing orchestral miniatures. His pieces, including “The Typewriter,” “Bugler’s Holiday,” and “A Trumpeter’s Lullaby” are performed by orchestras and bands ranging from school groups to professional organizations.

“The Syncopated Clock”

“Belle of the Ball”

Anderson would occasionally appear on the Boston Pops regular concerts on PBS to conduct his own music while Fiedler would sit on the sidelines. For “The Typewriter” Fiedler would don a green eyeshade, roll up his sleeves, and mime working on an old typewriter while the orchestra played.

Anderson was initiated as an honorary member of the Gamma Omicron chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia at Indiana State University in 1969.

In 1975, Anderson died of cancer in Woodbury, Connecticut[7][8] and was buried there.[9]

For his contribution to the recording industry, Leroy Anderson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1620 Vine Street. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1988 and his music continues to be a staple of “pops” orchestra repertoire. In 1995 the Harvard University Band’s new headquarters was named the Anderson Band Center in honor of Leroy Anderson.

In 2006, one of his piano works, “Forgotten Dreams”, written in 1954, became the background for a British TV advertisement for mobile phone company ‘3’. Previously, Los Angeles station KABC-TV used the song as its sign-off theme at the end of broadcast days in the 1980s, and Mantovani‘s recording of the song had been the closing theme forWABC-TV‘s “Eyewitness News” for much of the 1970s.

The Typewriter was used as the theme song for Esto no tiene nombre, a Puerto Rican television comedy program -loosely based on the US television series Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In– produced by Tommy Muñiz between the late 1960s and late 1970s.

“Sleigh Ride”  from the best -Mel Torme -who also co-composed, “The Christmas Song” with Nat King Cole.

Sources: Wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com, nmdb.com, leroyanderson.com

WORKS

  • Alma Mater (1954)
    1. Chapel Bells
    2. Freshman on Main Street
    3. Library Reading Room
    4. Class Reunion
  • Arietta (1962)
  • Balladette (1962)
  • Belle of the Ball (1951)
  • Birthday Party (1970)
  • Blue Tango (1951)
  • Bugler’s Holiday (1954)
  • Cambridge Centennial March of Industry (1946) (written for organ)
  • Captains and the Kings, The (1962)
  • Chatterbox (1966)
  • Chicken Reel (1946)
  • China Doll (1951)
  • Christmas Festival, A (1950) (original version was 9:00, later shortened in 1952 to 5:45)
  • Clarinet Candy (1962)
  • Classical Jukebox (1950)
  • Concerto in C Major for Piano and Orchestra (1953) (withdrawn by the composer, and released posthumously)
  • Cowboy and His Horse, The (1966)
  • Do You Think That Love Is Here To Stay? (1935)
  • Easter Song (194-) (written for organ)
  • Fiddle-Faddle (1947)
  • First Day of Spring, The (1954)
  • Forgotten Dreams (1954)
  • Girl in Satin, The (1953)
  • Golden Years, The (1962)
  • Goldilocks (musical) (1958) (some numbers in the Suite did not appear in the original musical, and some numbers from the musical are not in this Suite)
    1. Overture (1958)
    2. Come to Me (1958)
    3. Guess Who (1958)
    4. Heart of Stone (Pyramid Dance) (1958)
    5. He’ll Never Stray (1958)
    6. Hello (1958)
    7. If I Can’t Take it With Me (1958)
    8. I Never Know When to Say When (1958)
    9. Lady in Waiting (1958)
    10. Lazy Moon (1958)
    11. Little Girls (1958)
    12. My Last Spring (1958)
    13. Save a Kiss (1958)
    14. Shall I Take My Heart and Go? (1958)
    15. Tag-a-long Kid (1958)
    16. The Pussy Foot (1958)
    17. Town House Maxixe (1958)
    18. Who’s Been Sitting in My Chair ? (1958)
  • Governor Bradford March (1948) (published posthumously)
  • Harvard Fantasy (1936)
  • Harvard Festival, A (1969)
  • Hens and Chickens (1966)
  • Home Stretch (1962)
  • Horse and Buggy (1951)
  • Irish Suite (1947 & 1949)
    1. The Irish Washerwoman (1947)
    2. The Minstrel Boy (1947)
    3. The Rakes of Mallow (1947)
    4. The Wearing of the Green (1949)
    5. The Last Rose of Summer (1947)
    6. The Girl I Left Behind Me (1949)
  • Jazz Legato (1938)
  • Jazz Pizzicato (1938)
  • Love May Come and Love May Go (1935)
  • Lullaby of the Drums (1970) (published posthumously)
  • March of the Two Left Feet (1970)
  • Melody on Two Notes (~1965)
  • Mother’s Whistler (1940) (published posthumously)
  • Music in My Heart, The (1935)
  • Old Fashioned Song, An (196-)
  • Old MacDonald Had a Farm (1947)
  • Penny Whistle Song, The (1951)
  • Phantom Regiment, The (1951)
  • Piece for Rolf (1961)
  • Pirate Dance (1962) (optional SATB chorus)
  • Plink, Plank, Plunk! (1951)
  • Promenade (1945)
  • Pussy Foot Ballet Music, The (1962)
  • Sandpaper Ballet (1954)
  • Saraband (1948)
  • Scottish Suite (1954)
    1. The Bluebells of Scotland
    2. Turn Ye To Me
  • Second Regiment Connecticut National Guard March (1973)
  • Serenata (1947)
  • Sleigh Ride (1948)
  • Song of Jupiter (1951)
  • Song of the Bells (1953)
  • Suite of Carols for Strings (1955) (six carols)
  • Suite of Carols for Brass (1955) (seven carols)
  • Suite of Carols for Woodwinds (1955) (six carols)
  • Summer Skies (1953)
  • Syncopated Clock, The (1945)
  • Ticonderoga March (1939) (Anderson’s only work written for concert band)
  • To a Wild Rose (1970) (arranged from the song by Edward MacDowell) (published posthumously)
  • Trumpeter’s Lullaby, A (1949)
  • Typewriter, The (1950)
  • You Can Always Tell a Harvard Man (1962)
  • Waltz Around the Scale (1970)
  • Waltzing Cat, The (1950)
  • Wedding March for Jane and Peter (1972)
  • What’s the Use of Love? (1935)
  • Whistling Kettle, The (~1965)
  • Woodbury Fanfare (1959) (for four trumpets)

André Previn

André George PrevinKBE (born Andreas Ludwig Priwin; April 6, 1929)[1] is an American pianist, conductor, and composer. He is considered one of the most versatile musicians in the world, and is the winner of four Academy Awards for his film work and ten Grammy Awards for his recordings.

Previn was born in Berlin, Germany , the son of Charlotte (née Epstein) and Jack Previn, who was a lawyer, judge, and music teacher.[2] He is a distant relative of the composerGustav Mahler. The year of his birth is uncertain. Whilst most published reports give 1929,[1] Previn himself has stated that 1930 is his birth year.[3] This situation is because the family lost Previn’s birth certificate when they left Germany in 1938. His elder brother was director Steve Previn. The Previn family, which was Jewish, emigrated to the United States in 1939 to escape the Nazi regime in Germany.

“It Could Happen To You”

In 1939, his family moved to Los Angeles, where his great-uncle, Charles Previn, was music director of Universal Studios. André grew up in Los Angeles and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1943. At Previn’s 1946 graduation from Beverly Hills High School he played a musical duet with Richard M. Sherman; Previn played the piano, accompanying Sherman (who played flute). He first came to prominence by arranging and composing Hollywood film scores in 1948. Coincidentally, 21 years later, both composers won Oscars for different films, both winning in musical categories. In the mid-to-late 1950s, and more recently, Previn toured and recorded as a jazz pianist. In the 1950s, mainly recording for Contemporary Records, he worked with Shelly Manne,Leroy VinnegarBenny Carter, and others. An album he recorded with Manne and Vinnegar of songs from My Fair Lady was a best-seller (see My Fair Lady (Shelly Manne album)). As a solo jazz pianist, Previn largely devoted himself to interpreting the works of major songwriters such as Jerome KernFrederick LoeweVernon Duke, and Harold Arlen. Previn made two albums with Dinah Shore as arranger, conductor, and accompanist in 1960, and another, the unjustly neglected “Duet”, with Doris Day in 1961. He made appearances onThe Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford as well as The Dinah Shore Chevy Show. He collaborated with Julie Andrews on a collection of Christmas carols in 1966, focusing on rarely heard carols. This popular album has been reissued many times over the years and is now available on CD. His main influences as a jazz pianist include Art Tatum,Oscar Peterson, and Horace Silver. Previn has also recorded classical piano compositions by MozartGershwinPoulencShostakovich, and others.

“Laura” -Remember these recordings from the 1960’s with full string orchestras. It was funny then – its funny still, though lovely.

In 1967, Previn succeeded John Barbirolli as music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. In 1968, Previn began his tenure as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), serving in that post until 1979. During his LSO tenure, he and the LSO appeared on the BBC Television programme André Previn’s Music Night. From 1976 to 1984, Previn was music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), and in turn had another television series with the PSO entitled Previn and the Pittsburgh. He was also principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 1985 to 1988.

In 1985, he became music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Although Previn’s tenure with the orchestra was musically satisfactory, other conductors including Kurt SanderlingSimon Rattle, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, did a better job at selling out concerts. Previn clashed frequently with Ernest Fleischmann (the orchestra’s Executive VP and General Manager), most notably when Fleischmann failed to consult him before naming Salonen as Principal Guest Conductor of the orchestra, complete with a tour of Japan. Because of Previn’s objections, Salonen’s title and Japanese tour were withdrawn; however, shortly thereafter, in April 1989, Previn resigned. Four months later, Salonen was named Music Director Designate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, officially taking the post of Music Director in October 1992.[4] 

“What’s This Thing Called Love” (not sure what all the silly photos are about, but listen to this guy tear up the piano!! Phenomenal, understated jazz pianist!

Previn has composed film scores and other musical works, including concertos for piano, violin, cello, and guitar. He has also adapted and conducted the music for several films, some of them stage-to-film adaptations, such as My Fair LadyKismetPorgy and Bess, and Paint Your Wagon. Several were written especially for film, including the Academy Award-winning Gigi. Several of the film scores were collaborations with his second wife, Dory Previn.

In later years, he has concentrated on composing classical music. He collaborated with Tom Stoppard on Every Good Boy Deserves Favour,[5] a play with substantial musical content, which was first performed in London in 1977 with Previn conducting the LSO. His first opera, A Streetcar Named Desire, premiered at the San Francisco Opera in 1998. His second opera, Brief Encounter, based on the 1945 movie of the same name, was premiered at Houston Grand Opera on May 1, 2009. His numerous other classical works include vocal, chamber, and orchestral music.

“Honeysuckle Rose”

Previn’s many recordings include the three ballets of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Swan LakeThe Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker), and the complete symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams, all with the LSO. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he made other recordings of music by Sergei Prokofiev (most notably, the Symphonies 1 and 5, the score to Alexander Nevsky, and the Symphony-Concerto for Cello & Orchestra with Heinrich Schiff as soloist), symphonies and other pieces by Antonín Dvořák, and works by contemporary composers including William KraftJohn Harbison, and Harold Shapero. His recordings of works by RachmaninoffGershwinWilliam Walton, and Shostakovichhave been particularly prized.

He has made jazz recordings in two periods of his career: in the 1950s and early 1960s and then again since the 1980s. With bassist David Finck he has recorded a collection ofGeorge Gershwin standards (“We Got Rhythm: Gershwin Songbook”) and Duke Ellington classics (“We Got It Good & That Ain’t Bad: an Ellington Songbook”), both on theDeutsche Grammophon label. Previn became known to a broad public through his television work. In the United Kingdom, he worked on TV with the London Symphony Orchestra. In the United States, “Previn and the Pittsburgh” showed him in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Previn is particularly remembered in Britain for his performance as “Mr. Andrew Preview” (or “Privet”) on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show in 1971, which involved his conducting a performance of Edvard Grieg‘s Piano Concerto with Eric Morecambe as the comically-inept soloist. (At one point “Mr Preview” accuses Eric Morecambe of playing the wrong notes; Eric retorts that he has been playing “the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.”) Because of other commitments, the only time available for Previn to learn his Morecambe and Wise part was during a transatlantic flight, but the talent he showed for comedy won high praise from his co-performers. At a concert in Britain afterwards, Previn had to stop the playing of the concerto to allow the audience time to stop giggling as they remembered the sketch. Previn himself notes that people still recall the sketch years later in the UK, where “Taxi drivers still call me Mr Preview”.

“I’ll String Along With You.”

Previn has been married five times. His first three marriages, to Betty Bennett (with whom he had two children), to Dory Langdon, and then to Mia Farrow, kept him in the public eye. Previn and Farrow had three biological children, twins Matthew and Sascha, born February 26, 1970, and Fletcher, born March 14, 1974. In 1973 and 1976, respectively, Previn and Farrow adopted Vietnamese infants Lark Song and Summer “Daisy” Song (born October 6, 1974). Lark died on Christmas Day of 2008.[6] He is also the adoptive father of Soon-Yi Previn, who was adopted from Korea at age 8 (born October 8, 1970). After his fourth marriage (to Heather Sneddon in 1982, with whom he had one child) ended in 2002, Previn wed the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and later wrote a violin concerto for her. They divorced in 2006, but remain on amicable terms and have continued to work together in concerts.[7][8] Previn wrote a memoir of his early years in Hollywood, No Minor Chords, which was published in 1991.

….and my favorite, “Skylark”

Previn has received a total of thirteen Academy Award nominations, winning in 1958, 1959, 1963 and 1964. He is one of few composers to accomplish the feat of winning back-to-back Oscars, and one of only two to do so on two occasions (the other being Alfred Newman). In 1970 he was nominated for a Tony Award as part of Coco‘s nomination for Best Musical. In 1977 he became an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music.[9] The 1977 television show Previn and the Pittsburgh was nominated for three Emmy awards. Previn was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1996.[10] (Not being a citizen of a Commonwealth Realm, he may use only the post-nominal letters KBE and not the title “Sir André”.) Previn received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 in recognition of his contributions to classical music and opera in the United States. In 2005 he was awarded the international Glenn Gould Prize and in 2008 won Gramophone magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in classical, film, and jazz music.[11] In 2010, the Recording Academy honored Previn with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

Academy Awards

Best Music – Scoring of a Musical Picture
Best Score – Adaptation or Treatment

Grammy Awards

Best Instrumental Soloist
Best Classical Crossover Album
Best Chamber Music Performance
Best Choral Performance
Best Performance by an Orchestra
Best Sound Track Album
Best Jazz Performance – Soloist or Small Group

List of compositions

Film

Orchestral Music

  • Concerto for Cello (1960)
  • Guitar Concerto (1960)
  • Piano Concerto (1985)
  • Violin Concerto (2001)
  • Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass (2004)

Chamber Music

  • Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello (2008)
  • Clarinet Sonata (Prague, 2010)

Opera

Theatre

Jazz

Sources: Wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com, nmdb.com