Marvin Frederick Hamlisch was an American composer and conductor. Hamlisch was one of only fifteen people to win Emmy, Grammy and Tony awards; this collection of all four is referred to as an "EGOT". He is one of only two people to have won a Pulitzer Prize. Hamlisch was born in Manhattan, to Viennese-born Jewish parents Max Hamlisch, his father was an bandleader. Hamlisch was a child prodigy and, by age five, he began mimicking the piano music he heard on the radio. A few months before he turned seven, in 1951, he was accepted into what is now the Juilliard School Pre-College Division. Hamlisch's first job was as a rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand. Shortly afterward, he was hired by producer Sam Spiegel to play piano at Spiegel's parties; this connection led to The Swimmer. His favorite musicals growing up were My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie. Hamlisch attended Queens College, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967. Although Liza Minnelli's debut album included "The Travelin' Life", a song he wrote in his teens, his first hit did not come until he was 21 years old.
This song, "Sunshine and Rainbows", co-written with Howard Liebling, was recorded by Lesley Gore and reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1965. His first film score was for The Swimmer, after the film's producer Sam Spiegel hired Hamlisch based on a piano performance Hamlisch did at a party, he wrote music for several early Woody Allen films such as Take the Money and Run and Bananas. In addition, Hamlisch co-wrote the song "California Nights", recorded by Lesley Gore for her 1967 hit album of the same name; the Bob Crewe-produced single peaked at No. 16 on the Hot 100 in March 1967, two months after Gore had performed the song on the Batman television series, in which she guest-starred as an accomplice to Julie Newmar's Catwoman. Among his better-known works during the 1970s were adaptations of Scott Joplin's ragtime music for the motion picture The Sting, including its theme song, "The Entertainer", it hit No. 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart and No. 3 on the Hot 100, selling nearly 2 million copies in the U.
S. alone. He had great success in 1973, winning two Academy Awards for the title song and the score for the motion picture The Way We Were and an Academy Award for the adaptation score for The Sting, he won four Grammy Awards in 1974, two for "The Way We Were". In 1975, he wrote what, for its first 12 years, would be the original theme music for Good Morning America—it was built around four notes, he co-wrote "Nobody Does It Better" for The Spy Who Loved Me with his then-girlfriend Carole Bayer Sager, which would be nominated for an Oscar. In the 1980s, he had success with Sophie's Choice, he received an Academy-Award nomination in 1986 for the film version of A Chorus Line. His last projects included The Informant!, starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh. Prior to his death, he completed his first children's book Marvin Makes Music, which included the original music "The Music in My Mind" with words by Rupert Holmes, the score for the HBO film Behind the Candelabra directed by Soderbergh and starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas as Liberace.
Hamlisch's first major stage work was in 1972 playing piano for Groucho Marx at Carnegie Hall for An Evening with Groucho. Hamlisch acted as both straight man and accompanist while Marx, at age 81, reminisced about his career in show business; the performances were released as a two-record set, remained popular. He composed the scores for the 1975 Broadway musical A Chorus Line, for which he won both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize. At the beginning of the 1980s, his romantic relationship with Bayer Sager ended, but their songwriting relationship continued; the 1983 musical Jean Seberg, based on the life of the real-life actress, failed in its London production at the UK's National Theatre and never played in the U. S. In 1986, Smile was a mixed success; the musical version of Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl closed after only 188 performances, although he received a Drama Desk nomination, for Outstanding Music. Shortly before his death, Hamlisch finished scoring a musical theatre version of The Nutty Professor, based on the 1963 film.
The show played in July and August 2012, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, aiming for a Broadway run. The book is by Rupert Holmes, the production was directed by Jerry Lewis. Hamlisch was musical director and arranger of Barbra Streisand's 1994 concert tour of the U. S. and England as well as of the television special, Barbra Streisand: The Concert, for which he received two of his Emmys. He conducted several tours of Linda Ronstadt during this period, most notably on her successful 1996 Dedicated to the One I Love tour of arenas and stadiums. Hamlisch held the position of Principal Pops Conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, The National Symphony Orchestra Pops, The Pasadena Symphony and Pops, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. On July 23, 2011, Hamlisch conducted his debut concert for Pasadena Symphony and Pops at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Hamlisch replaced Rachael Worby. At the time of his death, he was preparing to assume responsibilities as Principal Pops Cond
George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. Among his best-known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, the songs Swanee and Fascinating Rhythm, the jazz standard I Got Rhythm, the opera Porgy and Bess which spawned the hit Summertime. Gershwin studied piano under Charles Hambitzer and composition with Rubin Goldmark, Henry Cowell, Joseph Brody, he began his career as a song plugger but soon started composing Broadway theater works with his brother Ira Gershwin and Buddy DeSylva. He moved to Paris intending to study with Nadia Boulanger, he returned to New York City and wrote Porgy and Bess with Ira and DuBose Heyward. It was a commercial failure but came to be considered one of the most important American operas of the twentieth century and an American cultural classic. Gershwin moved to Hollywood and composed numerous film scores until his death in 1937 from a malignant brain tumor.
His compositions have been adapted for use in films and television, several became jazz standards recorded and covered in many variations. Gershwin was of Russian Lithuanian Jewish ancestry, his grandfather, Jakov Gershowitz, had served for 25 years as a mechanic for the Imperial Russian Army to earn the right of free travel and residence as a Jew. His teenage son, Moishe Gershowitz, worked as a leather cutter for women's shoes. Moishe Gershowitz met and fell in love with Roza Bruskina, the teenage daughter of a furrier in Vilnius, she and her family moved to New York due to increasing anti-Jewish sentiment in Russia, changing her first name to Rose. Moishe, faced with compulsory military service if he remained in Russia, moved to America as soon as he could afford to. Once in New York, he changed his first name to Morris. Gershowitz lived with a maternal uncle in Brooklyn, he married Rose on July 21, 1895, Gershowitz soon Americanized his name to Gershwine. Their first child, Ira Gershwin, was born on December 6, 1896, after which the family moved into a second-floor apartment on Brooklyn's Snediker Avenue.
On September 26, 1898, George was born as second son to Morris and Rose Bruskin Gershwine in their second-floor apartment on Brooklyn's Snediker Avenue. His birth certificate identifies him as Jacob Gershwine, with the surname pronounced'Gersh-vin' in the Russian and Yiddish immigrant community, he had just one given name, contrary to the American practice of giving children both a first and middle name. He was named after a one time Russian army mechanic, he soon became known as George, changed the spelling of his surname to'Gershwin' about the time he became a professional musician. After Ira and George, another boy Arthur Gershwin, a girl Frances Gershwin were born into the family; the family lived in many different residences, as their father changed dwellings with each new enterprise in which he became involved. They grew up around the Yiddish Theater District. George and Ira frequented the local Yiddish theaters, with George appearing onstage as an extra. George lived a usual childhood existence for children of New York tenements: running around with his boyhood friends, roller skating and misbehaving in the streets.
Until 1908, he cared nothing for music, when as a ten-year-old he was intrigued upon hearing his friend Maxie Rosenzweig's violin recital. The sound, the way his friend played, captured him. At around the same time, George's parents had bought a piano for lessons for his older brother Ira, but to his parents' surprise, Ira's relief, it was George who spent more time playing it. Although his younger sister Frances was the first in the family to make a living through her musical talents, she married young and devoted herself to being a mother and housewife, thus surrendering any serious time to musical endeavors. Having given up her performing career, she settled upon painting as a creative outlet, a hobby George pursued. Arthur Gershwin followed in the paths of George and Ira becoming a composer of songs and short piano works. With a degree of frustration, George tried various piano teachers for some two years before being introduced to Charles Hambitzer by Jack Miller, the pianist in the Beethoven Symphony Orchestra.
Until his death in 1918, Hambitzer remained Gershwin's musical mentor and taught him conventional piano technique, introduced him to music of the European classical tradition, encouraged him to attend orchestral concerts. Following such concerts, young Gershwin would try to play, on the piano at home, the music he had heard from recall, without sheet music; as a matter of course, Gershwin studied with the classical composer Rubin Goldmark and avant-garde composer-theorist Henry Cowell, thus formalizing his classical music training. In 1913, Gershwin left school at the age of 15 and found his first job as a "song plugger", his employer was Jerome H. Remick and Company, a Detroit-based publishing firm with a branch office on New York City's Tin Pan Alley, he earned $15 a week, his first published song was "When You Want'Em, You Can't Get'Em, When You've Got'Em, You Don't Want'Em" in 1916 when Gershwin was only 17 years old. It earned him 50 cents. In 1916, Gershwin started working for Aeolian Company and Standard Music Rolls in New York and arranging.
He produced dozens, if not hundreds, of rolls under his own and assumed names
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Of the fifty states, it is the 34th largest by area, the seventh most populous, the tenth most densely populated; the state's capital and largest city is Columbus. The state takes its name from the Ohio River, whose name in turn originated from the Seneca word ohiːyo', meaning "good river", "great river" or "large creek". Partitioned from the Northwest Territory, Ohio was the 17th state admitted to the Union on March 1, 1803, the first under the Northwest Ordinance. Ohio is known as the "Buckeye State" after its Ohio buckeye trees, Ohioans are known as "Buckeyes". Ohio rose from the wilderness of Ohio Country west of Appalachia in colonial times through the Northwest Indian Wars as part of the Northwest Territory in the early frontier, to become the first non-colonial free state admitted to the union, to an industrial powerhouse in the 20th century before transmogrifying to a more information and service based economy in the 21st.
The government of Ohio is composed of the executive branch, led by the Governor. Ohio occupies 16 seats in the United States House of Representatives. Ohio is known for its status as both a bellwether in national elections. Six Presidents of the United States have been elected. Ohio is an industrial state, ranking 8th out of 50 states in GDP, is the second largest producer of automobiles behind Michigan. Ohio's geographic location has proven to be an asset for economic expansion; because Ohio links the Northeast to the Midwest, much cargo and business traffic passes through its borders along its well-developed highways. Ohio has the nation's 10th largest highway network and is within a one-day drive of 50% of North America's population and 70% of North America's manufacturing capacity. To the north, Lake Erie gives Ohio 312 miles of coastline. Ohio's southern border is defined by the Ohio River, much of the northern border is defined by Lake Erie. Ohio's neighbors are Pennsylvania to the east, Michigan to the northwest, Lake Erie to the north, Indiana to the west, Kentucky on the south, West Virginia on the southeast.
Ohio's borders were defined by metes and bounds in the Enabling Act of 1802 as follows: Bounded on the east by the Pennsylvania line, on the south by the Ohio River, to the mouth of the Great Miami River, on the west by the line drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami aforesaid, on the north by an east and west line drawn through the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan, running east after intersecting the due north line aforesaid, from the mouth of the Great Miami until it shall intersect Lake Erie or the territorial line, thence with the same through Lake Erie to the Pennsylvania line aforesaid. Ohio is bounded by the Ohio River, but nearly all of the river itself belongs to Kentucky and West Virginia. In 1980, the U. S. Supreme Court held that, based on the wording of the cessation of territory by Virginia, the boundary between Ohio and Kentucky is the northern low-water mark of the river as it existed in 1792. Ohio has only that portion of the river between the river's 1792 low-water mark and the present high-water mark.
The border with Michigan has changed, as a result of the Toledo War, to angle northeast to the north shore of the mouth of the Maumee River. Much of Ohio features glaciated till plains, with an exceptionally flat area in the northwest being known as the Great Black Swamp; this glaciated region in the northwest and central state is bordered to the east and southeast first by a belt known as the glaciated Allegheny Plateau, by another belt known as the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. Most of Ohio is of low relief, but the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau features rugged hills and forests; the rugged southeastern quadrant of Ohio, stretching in an outward bow-like arc along the Ohio River from the West Virginia Panhandle to the outskirts of Cincinnati, forms a distinct socio-economic unit. Geologically similar to parts of West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania, this area's coal mining legacy, dependence on small pockets of old manufacturing establishments, distinctive regional dialect set this section off from the rest of the state.
In 1965 the United States Congress passed the Appalachian Regional Development Act, an attempt to "address the persistent poverty and growing economic despair of the Appalachian Region." This act defines 29 Ohio counties as part of Appalachia. While 1/3 of Ohio's land mass is part of the federally defined Appalachian region, only 12.8% of Ohioans live there Significant rivers within the state include the Cuyahoga River, Great Miami River, Maumee River, Muskingum River, Scioto River. The rivers in the northern part of the state drain into the northern Atlantic Ocean via Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River, the rivers in the southern part of the state drain into the Gulf of Mexico via the Ohio River and the Mississippi; the worst weather disaster in Ohio history occurred along the Great Miami River in 1913. Known as the Great Dayton Flood, the entire Miami River watershed flooded, including the downtown business district of Dayton; as a result, the Miami Conservancy District was created as the first major flood plain engineering project in Ohio and the United States.
Grand Lake St. Marys in the west-central part of the state was constructed as a supply of water for ca
Great American Songbook Foundation
The Great American Songbook Foundation is a 501 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the music of the Great American Songbook. Located on the campus of the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, the Songbook Foundation's administrative offices are located on the Gallery level of the Palladium, a 1600-seat concert hall that opened in January 2011; the organization was known as the Michael Feinstein Foundation for the Education and Preservation of the Great American Songbook and the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative. Michael Feinstein's lifetime interest in, immense knowledge of, the music of the Great American Songbook led him to found the organization in 2007. Upon Feinstein's appointment as Artistic Director of the Center for the Performing Arts in 2009, the organization committed to locating its headquarters and archives on the Center's campus in Carmel, Indiana; the Great American Songbook Foundation's administrative headquarters houses a reference library and listening rooms for researchers, archival storage space, the Songbook Exhibit Gallery, an exhibit space featuring rotating interactive presentations about the music, its creators and the performers of the Great American Songbook.
The long-term goal of the Great American Songbook Foundation is to construct a free-standing museum on the campus of the Center with additional exhibit and programming space. The Great American Songbook Foundation is staffed by four full-time employees, they are assisted by a volunteer group of docents who serve as guides for the Songbook Exhibit Gallery and a team of collections assistants who assist the archivist with the Songbook Foundation's ongoing preservation efforts. The Songbook Foundation's national board of directors has twenty-two members; the Great American Songbook Foundation offers a variety of programs about the history and significance of the Great American Songbook that are accessible to the public and appeal to music enthusiasts of all ages. The Songbook Exhibit Gallery welcomes over 3500 visitors each year; these rotating exhibits provide guests with a view of the Songbook, both educational and entertaining, helps them to place the music of this era in context with the significant events and major cultural shifts that occurred in the United States during the twentieth century.
The Songbook Foundation offers corresponding educational programs and guided tours for school groups and professional organizations, members of the general public. The Songbook Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10:00am to 4:00pm, one hour before all Jazz and Songbook Series performances at the Palladium. Since 2011, the Songbook Foundation has presented the following exhibits: "The Great American Songbook", "G. I. Jive: The Music and Entertainers of World War II", "Blast from the Past: Roaring Hot'20s Jazz", "A Change Is Gonna Come: 1960s Broadway Musicals", "Gus Kahn: The Man Behind the Music", "The Great Indiana Songbook: Two Centuries of Hoosier Music"; the exhibit now on display is "Ella Sings the Songbook", celebrating Ella Fitzgerald's 100th birthday and commemorating her more than fifty-year career, much of, spent performing music from the Great American Songbook. In particular, the exhibit highlights the series of eight albums of Songbook music sung by Ella under the direction of Norman Granz and issued by Verve Records.
These exhibits focus on different time periods and artists. In addition to the interactive display which houses clips and short biographies of over four decades of singers and songwriters, artifacts from the Songbook Archives that relate to the music and musicians being highlighted in the Songbook Gallery exhibits are displayed. In 2014, the Great American Songbook Foundation partnered with four other institutions to form the Exhibit Alliance, a group of organizations that presented concurrent exhibits on the 1960s; the Exhibit Alliance continues to grow and now includes the Great American Songbook Foundation, the Indiana Historical Society, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, the Indianapolis Public Library, the Carmel-Clay Historical Society and the Carmel-Clay Public Library. The Songbook Academy Summer Intensive known as the High School Vocal Academy and Competition, originated in 2009 and is held annually in July; the program is "the only vocal competition based on music from Broadway, Hollywood musicals and the Tin Pan Alley era."
Over the past several years, the scope and visibility of the program has grown significantly. The competition involved only Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio. In 2011, Chris Lewis, an educator and musician, joined as director, four additional states were added. In 2013, the number of states doubled to twenty-two; the Songbook Academy continued expanding its national reach in 2014 with the addition of nine states, for a total of thirty-one states and six regional competition events. Following the 2014 Songbook Academy, the regional component of the audition process was eliminated. Judges and mentors for 2017 included program founder Michael Feinstein, broadway actress and singer Eden Espinosa, jazz singer and educator Ly Wilder, television writer and producer Marc Cherry, internationally renowned soprano Sylvia McNair. In past years, prominent artists including Laura Osnes, Jarrod Spector, Sandi Patty, Jane Monheit, Janis Siegel, Jim Caruso
Sir George Albert Shearing, OBE was a British jazz pianist who for many years led a popular jazz group that recorded for Discovery Records, MGM Records and Capitol Records. The composer of over 300 titles, including the jazz standards "Lullaby of Birdland" and "Conception", had multiple albums on the Billboard charts during the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s, he died of heart failure in New York City, at the age of 91. Born in Battersea, Shearing was the youngest of nine children, he was born blind to working class parents: his father delivered coal and his mother cleaned trains in the evening. He started to learn piano at the age of three and began formal training at Linden Lodge School for the Blind, where he spent four years. Though he was offered several scholarships, Shearing opted to perform at a local pub, the Mason's Arms in Lambeth, for "25 bob a week" playing piano and accordion, he joined an all-blind band during that time and was influenced by the records of Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller.
Shearing made his first BBC radio broadcast during this time after befriending Leonard Feather, with whom he started recording in 1937. In 1940, Shearing joined Harry Parry's popular band and contributed to the comeback of Stéphane Grappelli. Shearing won six consecutive Top Pianist Melody Maker polls during this time. Around that time he was a member of George Evans's Saxes'n' Sevens band. In 1947, Shearing emigrated to the United States, where his harmonically complex style mixing swing and modern classical influences gained popularity. One of his first performances was at the Hickory House, he performed with the Oscar Pettiford Trio and led a jazz quartet with Buddy DeFranco, which led to contractual problems, since Shearing was under contract to MGM and DeFranco to Capitol Records. In 1949, he formed the first George Shearing Quintet, a band with Margie Hyams, Chuck Wayne replaced by Toots Thielemans, John Levy, Denzil Best; this line-up recorded for Discovery, MGM, including the immensely popular single "September in the Rain", which sold over 900,000 copies.
Shearing said of this hit that it was "as accidental as it could be."Shearing's interest in classical music resulted in some performances with concert orchestras in the 1950s and 1960s, his solos drew upon the music of Satie and Debussy for inspiration. He became known for a piano technique known as "The Shearing Sound", a type of double melody block chord, with an additional fifth part that doubles the melody an octave lower. With the piano playing these five voices, Shearing would double the top voice with the vibraphone and the bottom voice with the guitar to create his signature sound. In 1956, Shearing became a naturalized citizen of the United States, he continued to play with his quintet, with augmented players through the years, recorded with Capitol until 1969. He created his own label, that lasted a few years. Along with dozens of musical stars of his day, Shearing appeared on ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. Earlier, he had appeared on the same network's reality show, The Comeback Story, in which he discussed how to cope with blindness.
In 1970, he began to "phase out his by-now-predictable quintet" and disbanded the group in 1978. One of his more notable albums during this period was The Reunion, with George Shearing, made in collaboration with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Rusty Jones, featuring Stéphane Grappelli, the musician with whom he had debuted as a sideman decades before. Shearing played in a trio, as a soloist, in a duo. Among his collaborations were sets with the Montgomery Brothers, Marian McPartland, Brian Q. Torff, Jim Hall, Hank Jones, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Kenny Davern. In 1979, Shearing signed with Concord Records, recorded for the label with Mel Tormé; this collaboration garnered Shearing and Tormé two Grammys, one in 1983 and another in 1984. Shearing remained fit and active well into his years and continued to perform after being honoured with an Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993, he never forgot his native country and, in his last years, would split his year between living in New York and Chipping Campden, where he bought a house with his second wife, singer Ellie Geffert.
This gave him the opportunity to tour the UK, giving concerts with Tormé, backed by the BBC Big Band. He was appointed OBE in 1996. In 2007, he was knighted. "So", he noted "the poor, blind kid from Battersea became Sir George Shearing. Now that's a fairy tale come true."He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1992 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel. In 2004, he released his memoirs, Lullaby of Birdland, accompanied by a double-album "musical autobiography", Lullabies of Birdland. Shortly afterwards, however, he retired from regular performing. In 2012 Derek Paravicini and jazz vocalist Frank Holder did a tribute concert to the recordings of Shearing. Ann Odell transcribed the recordings and taught Paravicini the parts, as well as being the MD for the concerts. Lady Shearing endorsed the show, sending a letter to be read out before the Watermill Jazz Club performance. Shearing was married to Trixie Bayes from 1941 to 1973. Two years after his divorce he married the singer Ellie Geffert, who survived him.
Shearing was a member of the Bohemian Club and performed at the annual Bohemian Grove Encampments. He composed music for two of the Grove Plays. Performed for U. S. PresidentsGerald
Cole Albert Porter was an American composer and songwriter. Born to a wealthy family in Indiana, he defied the wishes of his domineering grandfather and took up music as a profession. Classically trained, he was drawn to musical theatre. After a slow start, he began to achieve success in the 1920s, by the 1930s he was one of the major songwriters for the Broadway musical stage. Unlike many successful Broadway composers, Porter wrote the lyrics as well as the music for his songs. After a serious horseback riding accident in 1937, Porter was left disabled and in constant pain, but he continued to work, his shows of the early 1940s did not contain the lasting hits of his best work of the 1920s and'30s, but in 1948 he made a triumphant comeback with his most successful musical, Kiss Me, Kate. It won the first Tony Award for Best Musical. Porter's other musicals include Fifty Million Frenchmen, DuBarry Was a Lady, Anything Goes, Can-Can and Silk Stockings, his numerous hit songs include "Night and Day", "Begin the Beguine", "I Get a Kick Out of You", "Well, Did You Evah!", "I've Got You Under My Skin", "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "You're the Top".
He composed scores for films from the 1930s to the 1950s, including Born to Dance, which featured the song "You'd Be So Easy to Love". Porter was born in Peru, the only surviving child of a wealthy family, his father, Samuel Fenwick Porter, was a druggist by trade. His mother, was the indulged daughter of James Omar "J. O." Cole, "the richest man in Indiana", a coal and timber speculator who dominated the family. J. O. Cole built the couple a house on his Peru-area property. After high school, Porter returned to his childhood home only for occasional visits. Porter's strong-willed mother began his musical training at an early age, he learned the violin at age six, the piano at eight, wrote his first operetta at ten. She falsified his recorded birth year, changing it from 1891 to 1893 to make him appear more precocious, his father, a shy and unassertive man, played a lesser role in Porter's upbringing, although as an amateur poet, he may have influenced his son's gifts for rhyme and meter. Porter's father was a talented singer and pianist, but the father-son relationship was not close.
J. O. Cole wanted his grandson to become a lawyer, with that in mind, sent him to Worcester Academy in Massachusetts in 1905. Porter brought an upright piano with him to school and found that music, his ability to entertain, made it easy for him to make friends. Porter did well in school and came home to visit, he became class valedictorian and was rewarded by his grandfather with a tour of France and Germany. Entering Yale University in 1909, Porter majored in English, minored in music, studied French, he was a member of Scroll and Key and Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, contributed to campus humor magazine The Yale Record. He was an early member of the Whiffenpoofs a cappella singing group and participated in several other music clubs. Porter wrote 300 songs while at Yale, including student songs such as the football fight songs "Bulldog" and "Bingo Eli Yale" that are still played at Yale today. During college, Porter became acquainted with New York City's vibrant nightlife, taking the train there for dinner and nights on the town with his classmates, before returning to New Haven, early in the morning.
He wrote musical comedy scores for his fraternity, the Yale Dramatic Association, as a student at Harvard – Cora, And the Villain Still Pursued Her, The Pot of Gold, The Kaleidoscope and Paranoia – which helped prepare him for a career as a Broadway and Hollywood composer and lyricist. After graduating from Yale, Porter enrolled in Harvard Law School in 1913, he soon felt that he was not destined to be a lawyer, and, at the suggestion of the dean of the law school, switched to Harvard's music department, where he studied harmony and counterpoint with Pietro Yon. Kate Porter did not object to this move. In 1915, Porter's first song on Broadway, "Esmeralda", appeared in the revue Hands Up; the quick success was followed by failure: his first Broadway production, in 1916, See America First, a "patriotic comic opera" modeled on Gilbert and Sullivan, with a book by T. Lawrason Riggs, was a flop, closing after two weeks. Porter spent the next year in New York City before going overseas during World War I.
In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, Porter moved to Paris to work with the Duryea Relief organization. Some writers have been skeptical about Porter's claim to have served in the French Foreign Legion, but the Legion lists Porter as one of its soldiers and displays his portrait at its museum in Aubagne. By some accounts, he served in North Africa and was transferred to the French Officers School at Fontainebleau, teaching gunnery to American soldiers. An obituary notice in The New York Times said that, while in the Legion, "he had a specially constructed portable piano made for him so that he could carry it on his back and entertain the troops in their bivouacs." Another account, given by Porter, is that he joined the recruiting department of the American Aviation Headquarters, according to his biographer Stephen Citron, there is no record of his joining this or any other branch of the forces. Porter maintained a luxury apartment in Paris, his parties were extrava
Oscar Levant was an American concert pianist, music conductor, bestselling author, radio game show panelist and personality, television talk show host, actor. He was as famous for his mordant character and witticisms, on the radio and in movies and television, as for his music. Levant was born in Pittsburgh, United States, in 1906, to Orthodox Jewish parents from Russia, his father, was a watchmaker who wanted his four sons to become either dentists or doctors. His mother Annie was a religious woman whose father was a Rabbi who presided over his daughter’s wedding to Max Levant. Oscar Levant moved to New York following the death of his father, he began studying under a well-established piano pedagogue. In 1924, aged 18, he appeared with Ben Bernie in a short film, Ben Bernie and All the Lads, made in New York City in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film system. In 1928, Levant traveled to Hollywood. During his stay, he befriended George Gershwin. From 1929 to 1948 he composed the music for more than twenty movies.
During this period, he wrote or co-wrote numerous popular songs that made the Hit Parade, the most noteworthy being "Blame It on My Youth", now considered a standard. Around 1932, Levant began composing seriously, he impressed him sufficiently to be offered an assistantship. His formal studies led to a request by Aaron Copland to play at the Yaddo Festival of contemporary American music on April 30 of that year. Successful, Levant began composing a sinfonietta. 1938 saw Levant make his debut as a music conductor on Broadway, filling in for his brother Harry in sixty-five performances of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s The Fabulous Invalid. In 1939 he was again working on Broadway as composer and conductor of The American Way, another Kaufman and Hart production. At this time, Levant was becoming best known to American audiences as one of the regular panelists on the radio quiz show Information Please. Scheduled as a guest panelist, Levant proved so quick-witted and popular that he became a regular fixture on the show in the late 1930s and 1940s, along with fellow panelists Franklin P. Adams and John Kieran, moderator Clifton Fadiman.
"Mr. Levant", as he was always called, was challenged with musical questions, he impressed audiences with his depth of knowledge and facility with a joke. Kieran praised Levant as having a "positive genius for making offhand cutting remarks that couldn't have been sharper if he'd honed them a week in his mind. Oscar was always good for a bright response edged with acid." Examples include "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin," "I think a lot of Bernstein — but not as much as he does," and, "Now that Marilyn Monroe is kosher, Arthur Miller can eat her."From the 1930s through the mid-1950s, Levant appeared in a number of feature films playing a pianist or composer. He had major supporting roles in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals The Barkleys of Broadway, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly, The Band Wagon, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. From 1947 to 1949, Levant appeared on NBC radio's Kraft Music Hall, starring Al Jolson, he not only accompanied singer Jolson on the piano with classical and popular songs, but joked and ad-libbed with Jolson and his guests.
This included comedy sketches. The pairing of the two entertainers was inspired, their individual ties to George Gershwin—Jolson introduced Gershwin's "Swanee"—undoubtedly had much to do with their rapport. Both Levant and Jolson appeared as themselves in the Gershwin biopic Rhapsody in Blue. In the early 1950s, Levant was an occasional panelist on the NBC game show Who Said That?, in which celebrities would try to determine the speaker of quotations taken from recent news reports. Between 1958 and 1960, Levant hosted a television talk show on KCOP-TV in Los Angeles, The Oscar Levant Show, which became syndicated, it featured his piano playing along with monologues and interviews with top-name guests such as Fred Astaire and Linus Pauling. A full recording of only two shows is known to exist, one with Astaire, who paid to have a kinescope recording of the broadcast made so that he could assess his performance. In 1960 Levant was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition of his recording career.
Levant was married to actress Barbara Woodell. In 1939, Levant married for the second time, to singer and actress June Gale, one of the Gale Sisters, they were married for 33 years, until his death in 1972, had three children: Marcia and Amanda. Levant was open about his neuroses and hypochondria; the 1920s and 1930s wit Alexander Woollcott, a member of the Algonquin Round Table, once said of him: "There isn't anything the matter with Levant that a few miracles wouldn't cure." Despite his afflictions, Levant was considered a multifaceted genius by some. He himself wisecracked "There's a fine line between insanity. I have erased this line." In life Levant became addicted to prescription drugs, was committed to mental hospitals by his wife, withdrew from the limelight. He was the inspiration for the neurotic, womanizing pianist "Henry Orient" in Nora Johnson's novel and subsequent Hollywood film, The World of Henry Orient. A lifelong heavy smoker, Levant died in Beverly Hills, California, of a heart attack in 1972 at age 65.
His death was discovered by his wife June when she