The Musical Worlds of Lerner and Loewe

The Musical Worlds of Lerner and Loewe

The Musical Worlds of Lerner and Loewe

The Musical Worlds of Lerner and Loewe

Synopsis

Lyricist Alan Jay Lerner (1918-86) and composer Frederick Loewe (1901-88) wrote some of the most successful musical shows on Broadway and in motion-picture history: Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, Camelot, Gigi, and Paint Your Wagon. They worked with stars such as Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, Audrey Hepburn, Louis Jourdan, and Robert Goulet. Lerner was raised on Park Avenue, attended Choate and Harvard, lost sight in one eye from a boxing injury, and was legendary for his eight marriages and countless affairs on the side. Loewe was born in Berlin and in 1925 came to New York, where he played piano in silent-movie theaters. After a brief career as a boxer and then as a Montana cowboy, he returned to New York and to songwriting. In The Musical Worlds of Lerner and Loewe, Gene Lees has fashioned a readable, in-depth portrait of two creative talents: how they met and joined forces to create some of the finest musical theater, and also how marriages, legendary affairs, addictions, and backstage friction affected their art in many surprising ways.

Excerpt

There are two dubious sources of history: printed matter and memory. Alas we are dependent on them. Newspapers and magazines make mistakes, though for the most part journalists are conscientious, and disinterested, and so their reports are often more reliable than the recollections of participants in events. Any researcher becomes aware that personal testimony is not necessarily dependable. With the greatest sincerity, different witnesses will give differing, even contradictory, versions of an incident. the longer the time since an event, the greater the chance that its witnesses will be mistaken about it.

A great many of the people associated with Lerner and Loewe have written memoirs. These books have been helpful in the writing of this one. But I have treated them with caution, finding discrepancies in versions of events. in addition, there are biographies of Kurt Weill, Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, and, as of 1989, five of Richard Burton. a list of these sources will be found in the bibliography at the back of this volume.

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