FREDERICK LOEWE Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Name: Frederick Loewe                                                                 
Born: 10 June 1901                                                                     
Died: 14 February 1988                                                                 
Frederick Loewe (June 10, 1901 - February 14, 1988) was a Tony Award-winning           
Austrian-American composer.                                                           
Loewe was born in Vienna to Viennese parents Edmond and Rosa Loewe. His father         
Edmond was a noted Jewish operetta star who traveled considerably, to North and       
South America and throughout much of Europe. Fritz grew up in Berlin and               
attended a Prussian cadet school from the age of five until he was thirteen.           
At an early age Loewe learned to play piano by ear and helped his father               
rehearse. He eventually attended a music conservatory in Berlin, one year behind       
virtuoso Claudio Arrau. Both won the coveted Hollander Medal awarded by the           
school, and Fritz gave performances as a concert pianist while still in Germany.       
In 1925, his father received an offer to appear in New York, and Loewe traveled       
there with him, determined to write for Broadway. This proved to be difficult,         
and he found work playing piano in German clubs in Yorkville and in movie             
theaters as the accompanist for silent pictures.                                       
Loewe began to visit The Lambs Club, a hangout for theater performers, producers,     
managers, and directors. It was here that he met Alan J. Lerner in 1942. Their         
first collaboration was a musical adaptation of Barry Connor's farce The Patsy         
called Life of the Party for a Detroit stock company. It enjoyed a nine-week run       
and encouraged the duo to join forces with Arthur Pierson for What's Up?, which       
opened on Broadway in 1943. It ran for 63 performances and was followed two           
years later by The Day Before Spring. One of Broadway's most successful               
partnerships had been established.                                                     
Their first hit was Brigadoon (1947), a romantic fantasy set in a mystical             
Scottish village, directed by Robert Lewis. It was followed in 1951 by the less       
successful Gold Rush story Paint Your Wagon.                                           
In 1956 Lerner and Loewe unveiled My Fair Lady. Their adaptation of George             
Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion retained his social commentary and added unusually           
appropriate songs for the characters of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins,             
played originally by Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. It was hugely popular and         
set box-office records in New York and London. Together with Lerner, he won the       
Tony Award for Best Musical. With My Fair Lady a smash hit, MGM took notice, and       
commissioned them to write the 1958 film musical Gigi, which won nine Academy         
Awards, including Best Picture.                                                       
Their next Broadway production, Camelot, received mediocre reviews when it             
opened. The director and producer arranged for stars Richard Burton, Julie             
Andrews, and Robert Goulet to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and sing a few           
numbers from the musical, along with an appearance by Lerner and Loewe. The           
following morning the box office was swamped with requests, and Camelot became a       
huge hit.                                                                             
Loewe then decided to retire to Palm Springs, California, not writing anything         
until he was approached by Lerner to augment the Gigi film score with additional       
tunes for a 1973 stage adaptation, which won him his second Tony, this time for       
Best Original Score. The following year they collaborated on a musical film           
version of The Little Prince, based on the classic children's tale by Antoine de       
Saint-ExupĂ©ry. This film was a critical and box office failure, but has become a     
cult favorite, with the soundtrack recording and the film itself back in print (on     
CD and DVD) after many years of being unavailable.                                     
Loewe was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. He remained in           
Palm Springs until his death.