February 15, 1905
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
|Died||April 23, 1986 81) (aged|
New York City, New York, U.S.
(m. 1937;died 1970)
|Children||Adopted his brother's son in 1985|
Harold Arlen (born Hyman Arluck; February 15, 1905 – April 23, 1986) was an American composer of popular music,who composed over 500 songs, a number of which have become known worldwide. In addition to composing the songs for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz (lyrics by Yip Harburg), including "Over the Rainbow", Arlen is a highly regarded contributor to the Great American Songbook. "Over the Rainbow" was voted the 20th century's No. 1 song by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
Arlen was born in Buffalo, New York, the child of a Jewish cantor.His twin brother died the next day. He learned to play the piano as a youth, and formed a band as a young man. He achieved some local success as a pianist and singer before moving to New York City in his early twenties, where he worked as an accompanist in vaudeville and changed his name to Harold Arlen. Between 1926 and about 1934, Arlen appeared occasionally as a band vocalist on records by The Buffalodians, Red Nichols, Joe Venuti, Leo Reisman, and Eddie Duchin, usually singing his own compositions.
In 1929, Arlen composed his first well-known song: "Get Happy" (with lyrics by Ted Koehler).Throughout the early and mid-1930s, Arlen and Koehler wrote shows for the Cotton Club, a popular Harlem night club, as well as for Broadway musicals and Hollywood films. Arlen and Koehler's partnership resulted in a number of hit songs, including the familiar standards "Let's Fall in Love" and "Stormy Weather". Arlen continued to perform as a pianist and vocalist with some success, most notably on records with Leo Reisman's society dance orchestra.
In the mid-1930s, Arlen married, and spent increasing time in California, writing for movie musicals. It was at this time that he began working with lyricist E. Y. "Yip" Harburg.In 1938, the team was hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to compose songs for The Wizard of Oz , the most famous of which is "Over the Rainbow", for which they won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song. They also wrote "Down with Love" (featured in the 1937 Broadway show Hooray for What! ), "Lydia the Tattooed Lady", for Groucho Marx in At the Circus in 1939, and "Happiness is a Thing Called Joe", for Ethel Waters in the 1943 movie Cabin in the Sky .
Arlen was a longtime friend and onetime roommate of actor Ray Bolger, who starred in The Wizard of Oz.
In the 1940s, he teamed up with lyricist Johnny Mercer, and continued to write hit songs like "Blues in the Night", "Out of this World", "That Old Black Magic", "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive", "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home", "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)".
Arlen composed two of the defining songs of Judy Garland's career: "Over the Rainbow" and "The Man That Got Away", the last written for the 1954 version of the film A Star Is Born .At her famous 1961 Carnegie Hall concert, after finishing a set of his songs, Garland acknowledged Arlen in the audience and invited him to receive an ovation.
Arlen recorded his debut album as a vocalist, Harold Sings Arlen (With Friend) , in 1966. Barbra Streisand accompanied him on two songs.
Arlen and Anya Taranda married on January 6, 1937, over the objection of their parents, because she was a Gentile and he was Jewish, but it turned out to be a successful marriage. In 1951, Anya was institutionalized for seven years and died from a brain tumor in 1970.Arlen never remarried and died on April 23, 1986 of cancer at his Manhattan apartment at the age of eighty-one. Arlen is buried next to his wife at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. After his death, Irving Berlin summed up his life at a tribute, saying: "He wasn't as well known as some of us, but he was a better songwriter than most of us and he will be missed by all of us."
Shortly before his death, Arlen adopted the 22 year old adult son of his brother Julius "Jerry" Arluck, so that his estate would have an heir in order to extend his copyright. Samuel Arlen runs the company that owns the rights to the Arlen catalog.
Edgar Yipsel "Yip" Harburg was an American popular song lyricist and librettist who worked with many well-known composers. He wrote the lyrics to the standards "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?", "April in Paris", and "It's Only a Paper Moon", as well as all of the songs for the film The Wizard of Oz, including "Over the Rainbow". He was known for the social commentary of his lyrics, as well as his liberal sensibilities. He championed racial and gender equality and union politics. He also was an ardent critic of religion.
Ted L. Koehler was an American lyricist. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.
The Ella Fitzgerald Song Books were a series of eight studio albums released in irregular intervals between 1956 and 1964, recorded by the American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, supported by a variety of orchestras, big bands, and small jazz combos.
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book is a 1961 album by the American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, with a studio orchestra conducted and arranged by Billy May. This album marked the only time that Fitzgerald worked with May.
Love Held Lightly: Rare Songs by Harold Arlen is an album by Peggy Lee that was released in 1993.
"Ill Wind" is a song composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Ted Koehler. It was written for their last show at the Cotton Club in 1934 and was sung by Adelaide Hall In an interview, Adelaide Hall explained how she performed the song to great effect during the show:
I starred in the Cotton Club Parade where I sang "Ill Wind," which Harold Arlen had written for me. There were twenty-four girl dancers behind me all dressed in grey and I was in pink. It was the first show ever that had nitrogen smoke rise from the floor on stage.
Hooray for What! is an anti-war musical with music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E. Y. Harburg and a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. It introduced the song "Down With Love".
Oscar Peterson Plays Harold Arlen is an album by Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, released in 1955.
Oscar Peterson Plays the Harold Arlen Songbook is an album by Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, which was recorded in 1959. It was reissued in 2001 combined with the 1954 recording Oscar Peterson Plays Harold Arlen.
Life Begins at 8:40 is a musical revue with music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and E.Y. Harburg, and sketches by Gershwin, Harburg, David Freedman, H.I. Phillips, Alan Baxter, Henry Clapp Smith, and Frank Gabrielson.
Rosemary Clooney Sings the Music of Harold Arlen is a 1983 album by Rosemary Clooney, of songs composed by Harold Arlen. The album was the first of five to feature guitarist Ed Bickert, and it also featured longtime Clooney collaborators Scott Hamilton, Warren Vaché Jr., and Jake Hanna. The album also the only small-group album in her Concord discography not to feature either Nat Pierce or John Oddo on piano. Instead, Dave McKenna, who had a long-established solo career as a jazz pianist, joined Clooney for the album.
Sings a String of Harold Arlen is a 1961 studio album by Tony Bennett. It consists of string arrangements of songs composed by Harold Arlen. The illustration on the cover is by Bob Peak.
"Last Night When We Were Young" is a 1935 popular song about nostalgia and young love composed by Harold Arlen, with lyrics by Yip Harburg. Arlen regarded it as the favourite of the songs that he had written.
A Harold Arlen Showcase is an album by pianist Kenny Drew recorded in 1957 and released on the Riverside Records subsidiary Judson label. The album was rereleased on CD by Milestone Records as a compilation with its companion album A Harry Warren Showcase as Kenny Drew Plays the Music of Harry Warren and Harold Arlen in 1995.
Cal Tjader Plays Harold Arlen is an album by American vibraphonist Cal Tjader, five of its 11 tracks arranged by Tjader's longtime colleague Clare Fischer. Recorded in June 1960 and released in February 1962 on the Fantasy label, it would be reissued on CD – together with Tjader's similarly semi-orchestral 1961 LP, West Side Story – on July 30, 2002, as Cal Tjader Plays Harold Arlen and West Side Story.
The Wizard of Oz and Other Harold Arlen Songs is an album by American jazz trumpeter and arranger Shorty Rogers performing songs composed by Harold Arlen including several from The Wizard of Oz. The album was issued by RCA Victor in 1959.
Tommy Flanagan Plays the Music of Harold Arlen is an album by jazz pianist Tommy Flanagan, with bassist George Mraz and drummer Connie Kay.
Come Rain or Shine: The Harold Arlen Songbook is a 1996 album by André Previn and Sylvia McNair of songs by the composer Harold Arlen.
I've Got a Right to Sing the Blues is an album by pianist Sir Roland Hanna and vocalist Carrie Smith performing songs by Harold Arlen which was released by IPO Recordings in 2002.
Harold Sings Arlen is a 1966 vocal album by the composer Harold Arlen with arrangements by Peter Matz. Arlen is accompanied on two songs by Barbara Streisand. This was Arlen's only album on which he performed as a singer.
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