Composer, pianist and arranger, who provided music for several Broadway musicals and Hollywood movies.
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Louis Alter Biography

by AllMusic

b. 18 June 1902, Haverhill, Massachusetts, USA, d. 3 November 1980, New York, USA. A composer, pianist and arranger, Alter studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. In his early teens, he played piano in silent-movie houses, and in the 20s served as accompanist for the flamboyant entertainer Nora Bayes, as well as Beatrice Lillie and Helen Morgan, among others. Later in the decade, he contributed songs to several Broadway musicals and revues, including A La Carte (1927), Earl Carroll Vanities Of 1928, Americana Of 1928 (‘My Kinda Love’, lyric: Jo Trent), Sweet And Low (1930, ‘Overnight’, lyric: Billy Rose -Charlotte Kent), Ballyhoo (1931) and Hold Your Horses (1933). With the advent of talking pictures, Alter moved to Hollywood and wrote some scores and occasional numbers for movies such as Lord Byron Of Broadway (1929, ‘Nothin’ But The Blues’, lyric: Joe Goodwin), Hollywood Revue Of 1929 (‘Gotta Feelin’ For You’, Jo Trent), Take A Chance, (1933, ‘Come Up And See Me Sometime’, Arthur Swanstrom), Dizzy Dames (1935, ‘I Was Taken By Storm’, Edward Heyman), The Old Homestead (1935, ‘Moonlight In Heaven’, Jack Scholl), Sing, Baby, Sing (1936, ‘You Turned The Tables On Me’, Sidney D. Mitchell), Rainbow On The River (1936, ‘Rainbow On The River’, ‘You Only Live Once’, ‘A Thousand Dreams Of Love’, Paul Francis Webster), The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine (1936, ‘A Melody From The Sky’ [Oscar nomination], ‘Twilight On The Trail’, Mitchell), Make A Wish (1937, ‘Music In My Heart’, ‘My Campfire Dreams’, ‘Make A Wish’, Webster-Oscar Straus; ‘Old Man Rip’, Webster-Alter) and Vogues Of 1938 (‘Turn On The Red Heat (Burn The Blues Away)’, Webster; ‘King Of Jam’, Alter).

During World War II Alter served as an Entertainments Officer for US Air Force bases, returning to compose the music for film songs such as ‘Dolores’ (Frank Loesser, Oscar nomination, Las Vegas Nights, 1941), ‘Love Me As I Am’ (Caught In The Draft, 1941), ‘If I Had A Wishing Ring’ (Breakfast In Hollywood, 1946) and ‘The Blues Are Brewin’’ and ‘Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?’ (Eddie De Lange, New Orleans, 1947). One of his last movie projects was Living In A Big Way (1947), in which Gene Kelly, accompanied by small dog, did a charming dance to Alter and Heyman’s ‘Fido And Me’. Among Alter’s other compositions were ‘Au Revoir But Not Goodbye’ (Raymond Klages), ‘I’ve Got Sand In My Shoes’ (1934), ‘Manhattan Serenade’ (1928, Harold Adamson, and revived by Harry James, Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey in 1942), ‘Circus’ (Bob Russell), and ‘Nina Never Knew’ (1952, Milton Drake), an attractive ballad that received an excellent reading from Vic Damone. Alter also wrote several instrumental pieces, including ‘Manhattan Masquerade’, ‘Manhattan Moonlight’, ‘American Serenade’ and ‘Side Street In Gotham’.

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