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Harold Arlen (February 15, 1905 – April 23, 1986)Read More...
Was an American composer of popular music. Having written over 400 songs, a number of which have become known the world over, Arlen is a highly regarded contributor to the Great American Songbook. His 1938 song "Over the Rainbow” was voted the twentieth century's No. 1 song by the Recording Industry Association of America
Arlen was born Hyman Arluck, in Buffalo, New York, the child of a Jewish cantor. His twin brother died the next day. He learned the piano as a youth and formed a band as a young man. He achieved some local success as a pianist and singer and moved to New York City in his early 20s. He worked as an accompanist in vaudeville. At this point, he changed his name to Harold Arlen. He performed on record with the "Buffalodians" orchestra, as well as those of Red Nichols, Henny Hendrickson and Arnold Johnson.
Between 1926 and about 1934, Arlen appeared occasionally as band vocalist on records by The Buffalodians, Red Nichols, Joe Venuti, Leo Reisman and Eddie Duchin, usually singing his own compositions.
In 1929, Arlen composed his first well-known song: "Get Happy" (with lyrics by Ted Koehler). Throughout the early and mid-1930s, Arlen and Koehler wrote shows for the Cotton Club, a popular Harlem night club, as well as Broadway musicals and Hollywood films. Arlen also continued to perform with some success, most notably on records with Leo Reisman's society dance orchestra.
Arlen's compositions have always been popular with jazz musicians because of his facility at incorporating a blues feeling into conventional American popular songs.
Arlen and Koehler wrote several hit songs during the early and mid-1930s.
In the mid-1930s, Arlen married, and spent increasingly more time in California, writing for movie musicals. It was at this time that he began working with lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. In 1938, the team was hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to compose songs for The Wizard of Oz. The most famous of these is the song "Over the Rainbow" for which they won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song. They also wrote "Down with Love", a song later featured in the 2003 movie Down with Love.
Arlen was a longtime friend and former roommate of actor Ray Bolger who would star in The Wizard of Oz, the film for which "Over the Rainbow" was written.
Top SongsTotal plays on Last.fm over the last 6 months
- We're Off to See the Wizard - 20,009 plays
- LyricsSomewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There's a land that I've heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream,
Really do come true.
- Stormy Weather - 7,686 plays
- Somewhere over the Rainbow - 4,397 plays
- Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead (Duet with Harold Arlen) - 2,286 plays
- If I Only Had A Brain - 2,995 plays
- The Merry Old Land of Oz - 3,020 plays
- If I Were King of the Forest (Extended Version) - 1,971 plays
- Optimistic Voices - 2,958 plays
- Main Title - 2,095 plays