Monday, July 9, 2012

Positive Quiddity: Composer Harry Warren

Brief Summary of Harry Warren

Warren was the first major American songwriter to write primarily for film. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song eleven times and won three Oscars for composing "Lullaby of Broadway," "You’ll Never Know," and "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe." He wrote the music for the first blockbuster film musical, 42nd Street, choreographed by Busby Berkeley, with whom he would collaborate on many musical films.

Over a career spanning four decades, Warren wrote over 800 songs. Other well-known Warren hits included "I Only Have Eyes for You," "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Babgy," "Jeepers, Creepers," "The Gold Diggers’ Song (We’re In the Money)," "That’s Amore," "The More I See You," "At Last," and "Chattanooga Choo Choo" (the last of which was the first gold record in history). Warren was one of America's most prolific film composers,and his songs have been featured in over 300 films.

Warren wrote over 800 songs between 1918 and 1981, publishing over 500 of them. They were written mainly for 56 feature films or were used in other films that used Warren's newly written or existing songs. His songs eventually appeared in over 300 films and 112 of Warner Brothers "Looney Tunes" cartoons. 42 of his songs were on the top ten list of the radio program "Your Hit Parade," a measure of a song's popularity. 21 of these reached #1 on Your Hit Parade. "You'll Never Know" appeared 24 times. His song "I Only Have Eyes for You" is listed in the list of the 25 most-performed songs of the 20th Century, as compiled by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). Warren was the director of ASCAP from 1929 to 1932.

He collaborated on some of his most famous songs with lyricists Al Dubin, Billy Rose, Mack Gordon, Leo Robin, Ira Gershwin and Johnny Mercer. In 1942 the Gordon-Warren song "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," as performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, became the first gold record in history, with sales of 1,200,000.

According to Wilfrid Sheed, quoted in Time Magazine, "By silent consensus, the king of this army of unknown soldiers, the Hollywood incognitos, was Harry Warren, who had more songs on the Hit Parade than Berlin himself and who would win the contest hands down if enough people have heard of him." William Zinsser noted, "The familiarity of Harry Warren's songs is matched by the anonymity of the man... he is the invisible man, his career a prime example of the oblivion that cloaked so many writers who cranked out good songs for bad movies."

At least three episodes of the Lawrence Welk Show were devoted entirely to Warren's music. (December 24, 1893 – September 22, 1981) was an American composer and lyricist.

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