Frederick Loewe

Last updated
Frederick Loewe.jpg

Frederick Loewe ( /ˈl/ , [1] originally German Friedrich (Fritz) [2] LöweGerman pronunciation: [ˈløːvə] ; June 10, 1901 – February 14, 1988 [3] ), was an Austrian-American composer. He collaborated with lyricist Alan Jay Lerner on a series of Broadway musicals, including My Fair Lady and Camelot , both of which were made into films.

Contents

Biography

Loewe was born in Berlin, Germany, to Viennese parents Edmond and Rosa Loewe. His father was a noted Jewish operetta star who performed throughout Europe and in North and South America; he starred as Count Danilo in the 1906 Berlin production of The Merry Widow . [4]

Loewe grew up in Berlin and attended a Prussian cadet school from the age of five until he was thirteen. At an early age Loewe learned to play piano by ear and helped his father rehearse, and he began composing songs at age seven. He eventually attended a music conservatory in Berlin, one year behind virtuoso Claudio Arrau, and studied with Ferruccio Busoni and Eugene d'Albert. He won the coveted Hollander Medal awarded by the school and gave performances as a concert pianist while still in Germany. At 13, he was the youngest piano soloist ever to appear with the Berlin Philharmonic.

In 1924, his father received an offer to appear in New York City, and Loewe traveled there with him, determined to write for Broadway. This proved to be difficult, and he took other odd jobs, including cattle punching, gold mining and prize fighting. [5] He eventually found work playing piano in German clubs in Yorkville and in movie theaters as the accompanist for silent films. In 1931, he married Ernestine Zerline. Childless, they divorced in 1957. [6]

Loewe began to visit the Lambs Club, a hangout for theater performers, producers, managers, and directors. He credited The Lambs for keeping him working until his career expanded, and left a share of his royalties of Brigadoon to The Lambs Foundation. [7] He met Alan Jay Lerner there in 1942. Their first collaboration was a musical adaptation of Barry Connor's farce The Patsy, called Life of the Party , for a Detroit stock company. [8] It enjoyed a nine-week run and encouraged the duo to join forces with Arthur Pierson for What's Up? , which opened on Broadway in 1943. [8] It ran for 63 performances and was followed by The Day Before Spring , which ran on Broadway from November 1945 to April 1946. [9]

Their first hit was Brigadoon , a romantic fantasy set in a mystical Scottish village, directed by Robert Lewis with choreography by Agnes de Mille. [8] The musical ran on Broadway from March 1947 to July 1948 and won the 1947 New York Drama Critics' Circle award as Best Musical. [10] It was followed in 1951 by the less successful Gold Rush story Paint Your Wagon . [8]

In 1956, Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady was produced on Broadway. Their adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion , with the leads, Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, being played originally by Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, was a huge hit on Broadway and London. The musical won the Tony Award for Best Musical. [8] Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer took notice and commissioned them to write the film musical Gigi (1958), which won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. [8]

Their next Broadway musical was Camelot in 1960. The production starred Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet. [8] [11] According to Playbill, "The show achieved an unprecedented advance sale of three and a half million dollars, propelled in part by a preview on the Ed Sullivan Show that featured its stars, Richard Burton and Julie Andrews." [12] Camelot ran for 873 performances. [13]

Loewe then decided to retire to Palm Springs, California, where he bought a home in 1960. [14] For many years he did not write anything until he was approached by Lerner to augment the Gigi film score with additional tunes for a 1973 stage adaptation, which won him his second Tony, this time for Best Original Score. [15] [8]

In 1974 they collaborated on a musical film version of The Little Prince , based on the classic children's tale by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. [8] [16] This film was a critical failure, but the soundtrack recording and the film itself are in print on CD and DVD. Loewe and Lerner were nominated for the 1974 Academy Award for Best Song and Best Adapted or Original Song Score (with Angela Morley and Douglas Gamley). [17]

Loewe was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. Seven years later, in 1979, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. [18]

Loewe remained in Palm Springs until his death at 86. [19] The cause of death was cardiac arrest, according to John F. Morris, an artist and longtime friend. [20] He had a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars dedicated to him in 1995. [21] He was buried in the Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California. [3] [22]

Notes

  1. "NLS: Say How". loc.gov.
  2. Biography from the Frederick Loewe Foundation
  3. 1 2 Palm Springs Cemetery District, "Interments of Interest"
  4. Lees, Gene (1 July 2005). The Musical Worlds of Lerner and Loewe. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 12–13. ISBN   978-0-8032-8040-3 . Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  5. Green, Benny. "Frederick Loewe, a prince of musical comedy", The Guardian, February 16, 1988, p. 33
  6. "'Camelot' And 'My Fair Lady' Composer Frederick Loewe Dies At 86". Associated Press. February 15, 1988. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  7. "The Lambs’ Foundation" thelambsfoundation.org
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Frederick Loewe Biography" masterworksbroadway.com, retrieved May 28, 2018
  9. The Day Before Spring Playbill (vault), retrieved May 29, 2018
  10. Brigadoon Playbill (vault), retrieved May 29, 2018
  11. " Camelot Broadway" Playbill, retrieved May 28, 2018
  12. Rogers, Madeline. "New York Philharmonic: A Night at the Round Table" Playbill, May 1, 2008
  13. Camelot ibdb.com, retrieved May 29, 2018
  14. Meeks, Eric G. (2014) [2012]. The Best Guide Ever to Palm Springs Celebrity Homes. Horatio Limburger Oglethorpe. p. 24. ISBN   978-1479328598.
  15. " Gigi Broadway" Playbill (vault), retrieved May 28, 2018
  16. " The Little Prince Cast and Crew" allmovie.com, retrieved May 29, 2018
  17. " The Little Prince Awards" allmovie.com, retrieved May 29, 2018
  18. "Theater Hall of Fame Enshrines 51 Artists". New York Times. November 19, 1979. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  19. Johns, Howard (2004). Palm Springs Confidential: Playground of the Stars! . Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books. p.  190. ISBN   978-1-56980-269-4. LCCN   2004041116. OCLC   54392060. LCC   PN2285 .J56 2004
  20. "Frederick Loewe Dies at 86" The New York Times
  21. Palm Springs Walk of Stars: By Date Dedicated Archived 2012-12-08 at the Wayback Machine
  22. Brooks, Patricia; Brooks, Jonathan (2006). "Chapter 8: East L.A. and the Desert". Laid to Rest in California: a guide to the cemeteries and grave sites of the rich and famous. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press. p. 239. ISBN   978-0762741014. OCLC   70284362.

Related Research Articles

Alan Jay Lerner American lyricist and librettist

Alan Jay Lerner was an American lyricist and librettist. In collaboration with Frederick Loewe, and later Burton Lane, he created some of the world's most popular and enduring works of musical theatre both for the stage and on film. He won three Tony Awards and three Academy Awards, among other honors.

<i>My Fair Lady</i> 1956 musical based on Shaws "Pygmalion"

My Fair Lady is a musical based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The story concerns Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from professor Henry Higgins, a phoneticist, so that she may pass as a lady. The original Broadway and London shows starred Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews.

<i>Gigi</i> (novella) 1944 novella by Colette

Gigi is a 1944 novella by French writer Colette. The plot focuses on a young Parisian girl being groomed for a career as a courtesan and her relationship with the wealthy cultured man named Gaston who falls in love with her and eventually marries her.

Moss Hart Playwright, screenwriter, theatrical director and memoirist

Moss Hart was an American playwright and theatre director.

<i>Brigadoon</i> Musical by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner

Brigadoon is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, and music by Frederick Loewe. Songs from the musical, such as "Almost Like Being in Love", have become standards. It features two American tourists who stumble upon Brigadoon, a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every 100 years. Tommy, one of the tourists, falls in love with Fiona, a young woman from Brigadoon.

Fred Ebb Musical theatre lyricist

Fred Ebb was an American musical theatre lyricist who had many successful collaborations with composer John Kander. The Kander and Ebb team frequently wrote for such performers as Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera.

Arthur Freed was an American lyricist and Hollywood film producer. He won the Academy Award for Best Picture twice, in 1951 for An American in Paris and in 1958 for Gigi. Both films were musicals. In addition, he produced and was also a co-lyricist for the now-iconic film Singin' in the Rain.

Harold Prince American theatre producer and director

Harold Smith Prince, commonly known as Hal Prince, was an American theatrical producer and director associated with many of the best-known Broadway musical productions of the 20th century.

<i>Camelot</i> (musical) stage musical

Camelot is a musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe (music). It is based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from the T. H. White novel The Once and Future King.

Lerner and Loewe refers to the partnership between lyricist and librettist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe. Spanning three decades from 1942 to 1960 and again from 1970 to 1972, the pair are known for being behind the creation of critical on stage successes such as; My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, and Camelot along with the musical film Gigi.

John Cullum is an American actor and singer. He has appeared in many stage musicals and dramas, including Shenandoah (1975) and On the Twentieth Century (1978), winning the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for each. He earned his first Tony nomination as lead actor in a musical in 1966 for On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, in which he introduced the title song, and more recently received Tony nominations for Urinetown The Musical (2002) and as best featured actor in a musical for the revival of 110 in the Shade (2007).

<i>Gigi</i> (1958 film) 1958 film by Vincente Minnelli

Gigi is a 1958 American musical-romance film directed by Vincente Minnelli and processed using Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's color film process Metrocolor. The screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner is based on the 1944 novella of the same name by Colette. The film features songs with lyrics by Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, arranged and conducted by André Previn.

<i>The Little Prince</i> (1974 film) 1974 film by Stanley Donen

The Little Prince is a 1974 British-American fantasy-musical film with screenplay and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe. It was both directed and produced by Stanley Donen and based on the 1943 classic children-adult's novella, The Little Prince, by the writer, poet and aviator Count Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who disappeared near the end of the Second World War some 15 months after his fable was first published.

Marin Joy Mazzie was an American actress and singer known for her work in musical theater.

<i>The Day Before Spring</i> musical

The Day Before Spring is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe.

Meg Bussert is an American actress, singer and a university professor.

<i>Gigi</i> (musical) musical

Gigi is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. It is based on the novella Gigi by Colette and 1958 hit musical film of the same name. The story concerns Gigi, a free-spirited teenaged girl living in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. She is being groomed as a courtesan in her family's tradition. Before she is deemed ready for her social debut, she encounters the bon vivant bachelor Gaston Lachaille, whom she captivates as she is transformed into a charmingly poised young lady.

Brent Barrett is an American actor and tenor who is mostly known for his work within American theatre. Barrett has performed in musicals and in concerts with theatres, symphony orchestras, opera houses, and concert halls internationally. He starred in the original production of Maltby and Shire's hit Off-Broadway musical Closer Than Ever in 1989 and the 2001 West End revival of Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate. He has also appeared sporadically on television and in films.

Franz Allers was a European-American conductor of ballet, opera, Broadway musicals, film scores, and symphony orchestras.

Rachel Rockwell was an American theater director, choreographer and performer. She graduated from the School for Creative and Performing Arts (Cincinnati) and had a BFA in Theater Performance from the University of Evansville (IN). She moved to Chicago in 1991 and began performing and choreographing. She appeared on Broadway in Mamma Mia! and the national tours of Mamma Mia! and Harold Prince's Show Boat. In 2010, she was named "Best Director" by Chicago Magazine.

References