One of the most gifted lyricists of the 1920s and '30s; with Richard Rogers, he is responsible for some the most lasting classics of musical theater.
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Lorenz Hart Biography

by Joslyn Layne

Pop music and show tune lyricist Lorenz Hart is best-known for his work with composer Richard Rodgers. As one of the most successful songwriting duos of Broadway, they influenced the sound of theater throughout the '20s and '30s. Born in N.Y.C. on May 2, 1895, Hart first met and teamed up with the younger Rodgers while writing for shows at Columbia University. Their first hit came not long after they started with "Any Old Place With You" (1919), used in Broadway's A Lonely Romeo. Their next success came with 1920's Poor Little Ritch Girl, which included seven of the duo's songs. The next several years went by with little success as the pair wrote for minor productions, even taking a break from songwriting altogether. Their break came in 1925 with The Garrick Gaieties, and their first complete score, Dearest Enemy. Some of their following successful shows included The Girl Friend (1926), Jumbo (1935), and By Jupiter (1942), but even the less successful productions included numbers that become popular songs, 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-'30s. Standouts from this time include 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 for the most hailed 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 late-'30s and early-'40s shows include "Spring Is Here," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," to name just a few. Lorenz Hart was not only lyricist, but also co-librettist for many shows, including Babes in Arms. Other notable songs of his 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 increased. Rodgers & 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 lost interest in composing. 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.

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