February 11, 2005
Harold Arlen at 100
Centennial celebration is planned in honor of legendary songwriter
February 15, 2005 marks the 100th birthday of renowned American
composer Harold Arlen, one of the most significant songwriters of the
Twentieth Century. Among Arlen's contributions are more than 500
timeless classics for both stage and screen, including "Blues in the
Night," "It's Only A Paper Moon," "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The
"Let's Fall In Love," I've Got the World On a String," "Lydia,
Tattooed Lady," "One For My Baby (and One More for the Road),"
Old Black Magic," "Come Rain Or Come Shine" and many more.
Born Hyman Arluck on February 15, 1905 in Buffalo, New York, Arlen
studied piano from age 9 and rapidly advanced in classical music
studies. In his teens, he developed a deep passion for jazz while
playing piano in local bands, movie houses, vaudeville troupes, and
With lyricist Ted Koehler, Arlen began his songwriting career in 1929
at the famed Cotton Club in New York City, where he honed his
showmanship and melody writing with such songs as "Get Happy,"
"Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" and "Stormy Weather."
Between 1934 and 1973, he wrote scores for over 23 Broadway musicals
(Bloomer Girl, St. Louis Woman,
House of Flowers) as well as specialty material for
cabaret and revues.
Most notable among his 30 Hollywood film scores are his songs for two
Judy Garland vehicles: Warner Bros.' 1954 landmark film A Star
Is Born, featuring "The Man that Got Away" (lyrics by Ira
Gershwin), and M-G-M's 1939 everlasting The Wizard of
Oz, which featured his Academy Award-winning "Over the
Rainbow" (lyrics by E.Y. Harburg). In 2000, "Over the Rainbow"
recognized as the Number One Song of the Twentieth Century by the RIAA
and, in 2004, the AFI named it the Number One Movie Song of all time.
Honors include eight Academy Awards song nominations and induction
into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. A longtime member in the American
Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Arlen
collaborated over the years with such prominent wordsmiths as Ira
Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Harburg, Koehler and others. His tunes are
among the most successful compositions in the history of the great
American songbook, having been recorded by virtually every notable
vocal artist – from Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald, from Nat King
Cole to Barbra Streisand – as well as countless instrumental artists
the likes of Oscar Peterson, Benny Goodman and André Previn. His works
continue to be recorded today by many contemporary artists, including
Faith Prince, Eric Clapton, Natalie Cole and Jane Monheit.
Arlen died in New York City on April 23, 1986.
Arlen's son, Sam Arlen, and his music publishing company, S.A. Music
Co., have organized the Harold Arlen Centennial to bring the
composer's name and music to the forefront. Sam Arlen is joined by
co-chairs Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Michael Feinstein and
Marilyn Bergman (ASCAP) for the Centennial, a two year celebration
with events in major cities throughout the U.S. and abroad. To learn
more about the Centennial and to view a schedule of events, please
visit www.HaroldArlen2005.com. Other resources: The Official Harold
Arlen Website: www.HaroldArlen.com.
Editor's note: The Film Music Society will feature Harold
Arlen in The Cue Sheet, Vol. 20, No. 2 (April 2005).
A subscription to The Cue Sheet is free to members of
the FMS. Please visit our membership page for more