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A Film by Michael Kantor


Composers, Lyricists & Writers

Frederick Loewe

A distinguished composer for the musical theater, Loewe was born into a musical family (his father was a professional singer). He studied piano as a child, appearing with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra in 1917. In 1924, he visited the USA, but was unable to find work in a classical environment. Instead, he eked out a living playing piano in restaurants and bars, then roamed throughout the USA, tackling a variety of jobs, including boxing, prospecting, and cowpunching. As a young teenager he had written songs, and he resumed this activity in New York in the early ’30s. Later in the decade he contributed to various musical shows, and in 1942 began to collaborate with lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. Their first Broadway score was for “What’s Up?” in 1943, which was followed two year later with “The Day Before Spring.” From that point onward, they wrote the music and lyrics (Lerner also contributed the librettos) for some of the most memorable productions in the history of the American musical theater. They had their first hit in 1947 with “Brigadoon,” from which came “The Heather on the Hill,” “From This Day On,” and “Almost Like Being in Love,” and the association was renewed in 1951 with “Paint Your Wagon,” containing such lovely songs as “They Call the Wind Maria,” “I Talk to the Trees,” and “Wand’rin’ Star.”

Richard Burton and Julie Andrews as Arthur and Guenevere in Lerner and Loewe's "Camelot."

In 1956, the team had a major triumph with the legendary “My Fair Lady,” which ran on Broadway for 2,717 performances. The score included such lasting favorites as “On the Street Where You Live,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” “With a Little Bit of Luck,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?,” “The Rain in Spain,” “Why Can’t the English?”, “I’m an Ordinary Man,” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.”

Frederick Loewe

Born: June 10, 1901
Died: February 14, 1988
Key Shows
  • "Brigadoon"
  • "Cameot"
  • "Gigi"
  • "My Fair Lady"
  • "Paint Your Wagon"
Related Artists
  • Julie Andrews
  • Kitty Carlisle Hart
  • Moss Hart
  • Michael Kidd
  • Alan Jay Lerner
  • Agnes de Mille
After the huge success of “My Fair Lady,” Lerner and Loewe were invited to write the script, music, and lyrics for a musical film, and while Lerner was enthusiastic about the idea, Loewe was somewhat reluctant. Eventually he agreed, and together they created the incomparable “Gigi” (1958), one of the final flourishes of the old-style Hollywood musical. The magnificent score included “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore,” “I Remember It Well,” “The Night They Invented Champagne,” and the charming title song. After being hospitalized with serious heart trouble, Loewe collaborated with Lerner on “Camelot,” which opened in 1960, and ran for over two years. Although the show’s preproduction was marred with problems, the result was another success, with such outstanding songs as “If Ever I Would Leave You” and “How to Handle a Woman.” Afterward, Loewe decided to retire, emerging briefly in the early ’70s to work with Lerner on two unsuccessful projects — a stage adaptation of “Gigi” and the film THE LITTLE PRINCE.

Source: Biographical information provided by MUZE. Excerpted from the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF POPULAR MUSIC, edited by Colin Larkin. © 2004 MUZE UK Ltd.

Photo credits: Photofest