Lorenz Hart

Biography

Born: May 2, 1895; New York, NY   Died: November 22, 1943; New York, NY  
Broadway lyricist Lorenz Hart is best known for his work with composer Richard Rodgers. As one of the most successful songwriting duos in pop history, they influenced the sound of musical theatre throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Born in New York on May 2, 1895, Hart first met and teamed up with the younger Rodgers while writing for campus producctions at Columbia University. Their first hit came not long after they joined forces with "Any Old Read more Place With You" (1919), used in Broadway's A Lonely Romeo. Their next success came with 1920's Poor Little Ritz Girl, which included seven of the duo's songs. The next several years went by with little success, with the pair writing for minor productions, and even taking a break from songwriting altogether. Their big break came in 1925 with The Garrick Gaieties, and their first complete score, Dearest Enemy. Some of their subsequent successful shows included The Girl Friend (1926), Jumbo (1935), and By Jupiter (1942), but even some of their less successful productions included numbers that become popular hits -- such as "Thou Swell" (1927) and "With a Song in My Heart" (1929). As stage productions became less lucrative during the Depression the team went to Hollywood, where they worked on films from the early to mid-1930s. Standout film scores include those for Love Me Tonight (1932) and Mississippi (1935). Many of Rodgers & Hart's stage hits were made into movie musicals during this time as well. They returned to Broadway in 1935 and entered upon the most creatively fertile period of their career. Each of their scores yielded several hit songs. For example, "Where or When," "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "My Funny Valentine" all came from 1937's Babes in Arms. Other hits from their shows of the late 1930s and early 1940s include "Spring Is Here," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" to name just a few.

Hart was not only lyricist but also contributor to the book itself for many shows, including Babes in Arms. Other notable Hart songs include "Manhattan," "My Heart Stood Still," "Isn't It Romantic?" and "Dancing on the Ceiling." After By Jupiter opened in 1942, Hart lost his drive to write as personal problems with alcohol and mental illness took their toll. Rodgers and Hart briefly reunited to compose new material for the 1943 stage revival of an early success, A Connecticut Yankee, but Hart had by this time mostly lost interest in working. Soon after the production's opening, Hart contracted double pneumonia and died on November 22, 1943. Hart was portrayed by Mickey Rooney in the 1948 movie about Rodgers & Hart, Words and Music. Read less

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