Alan Jay Lerner (1918-1986) and Frederick Loewe (1901-1988) wrote some of the most stylish, sophisticated theater music of the 20th century. The collaboration didn't come until relatively late in the career of each. New York-born, Harvard-educated Lerner wrote material for radio and for individual performers in the '30s. Loewe, born in Berlin, came to the U.S. in 1924 and gradually worked his way into theater music. The two were introduced in 1942. They scored their first hit, the fantasy Brigadoon, in 1947.
The Lerner-Loewe formula was to combine Loewe's lush, melodic music, redolent of Viennese waltz, with Lerner's witty, literate lyrics. This they did in some of the most popular and best-remembered musicals of the '40s,'50s, and '60s, notably Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, and Camelot (plus the musical film Gigi). After Loewe's retirement, Lerner wrote with other composers, most successfully with Burton Lane (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever).