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Hugh Martin

Born: Aug. 11, 1914

 

Working in theater and film, Birmingham native Hugh Martin penned some of our most memorable songs and worked with some of the brightest stars of stage and screen. Martin received his musical training at the Birmingham Conservatory of Music. He joined with Ralph Blane to write songs such as "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "The Trolley Song" from the score of the MGM film "Meet Me In St. Louis". "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is among the Top 10 performed songs of all time according to the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers. He did arrangements for the films "Girl Crazy", "Broadway Rhythm", "Presenting Lily Mars", and Broadway musicals such as "The Boys From Syracuse", "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", and "Top Banana". He did scores for the Broadway musicals "Look, Ma, I'm Dancin'", "Make A Wish", "High Spirits", and for the London production of "Love From Judy". He worked with stars such as Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, June Allyson, Lena Horne, Ethel Merman, Carmen Miranda, Ed Wynn, Phil Silvers, Carol Channing, Eddie Fisher, Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller. Martin was twice nominated for Academy Awards, and was inducted into the Song Writers Hall of Fame in 1983 and inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

 

Hugh Martin

Born August 11, 1914

Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.

Died March 11, 2011 (aged 96)

Genres Musical theater

Occupations Composer, vocal coach,playwright

Years active 1941–2011

ot;>Associated acts Ralph Blane, Judy Garland

Hugh Martin (August 11, 1914 – March 11, 2011) was an American musical theater and film composer, arranger, vocal coach, and playwright. He is best known for his score for the classic 1944 MGM musical Meet Me In St. Louis, in which Judy Garland sang three Martin songs, "The Boy Next Door," "The Trolley Song," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." The last of these has become a Christmas season standard in the United States and around the English-speaking world and is widely considered one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time. Martin became a close friend of Garland and was her accompanist at many of her concert performances in the 1950s including her legendary stint at the Palace Theater.

Martin wrote the music, and in some cases the lyrics, for five Broadway musicals: Best Foot Forward (1941); Look Ma, I'm Dancin'! (1948); Make a Wish (1951); High Spirits (1964) (music and lyrics, with Timothy Gray); and Meet Me In St. Louis (1989), a stage version of the film with an expanded score by Martin and Ralph Blane.

Martin's first Broadway credit was as an arranger for the 1937-1938 musical Hooray for What! and was a vocal or choral arranger for such later Broadway musicals as The Boys From Syracuse (1938–39), Too Many Girls (1939–40), DuBarry Was a Lady (1939–40), Cabin in the Sky (1940–41), and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949–51), Top Banana (1951–52), and Lorelei (1974). He was a vocal arranger for Sugar Babies (1979–82).

As a performer, Martin appeared on Broadway in Hooray for What!, Where Do We Go From Here (1938), and Louisiana Purchase (1940–41).

Ralph Blane was Martin's songwriting partner for most of his work, and the two recorded an album of their best songs entitled Martin and Blane Sing Martin and Blane with the Ralph Burns Orchestra in 1956 (now available on CD). Martin and Blane were twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song, for "The Trolley Song" in 1944, and for "Pass the Peace Pipe" (also co-written by Roger Edens) from Good News in 1947. Hugh Martin also received four Tony award nominations, three for High Spirits (Best Musical, Best Book Author of a Musical, Best Composer and Lyricist) and one for the 1990 Meet Me in St. Louis (Best Original Score).

Martin's other film work included songs for the films Athena (1954) starring Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds, and Vic Damone, and The Girl Most Likely (1957) starring Jane Powell as well as the film version of his Broadway hit Best Foot Forward which starred Lucille Ball.

Martin collaborated with vocalist Michael Feinstein for a 1995 CD Michael Feinstein Sings The Hugh Martin Songbook, an album on which the then 80-year-old songwriter accompanied Feinstein on piano and sang a duet. On an earlier CD Feinstein recorded the memorable Martin composition, "On Such a Night as This". He also released an album of his music called Hugh Sings Martin on the record label PS Classics, which drew from his catalog as a composer, lyricist, arranger and singer. The album was released in conjunction with the Library of Congress.

Martin, a Seventh-day Adventist, spent much of the 1980s as an accompanist for gospel female vocalist Del Delker on her revival tours and in 2001 rewrote his most famous song (with the assistance of Garland biographer John Fricke) as a more specifically religious number, "Have Yourself A Blessed Little Christmas", which was recorded that year by Delker with the 86-year-old songwriter playing piano on the recording.

Martin was the subject of a songbook collection, The Songs of Hugh Martin published by Hal Leonard Publishing in 2008. He published his autobiography Hugh Martin - The Boy Next Door in October 2010 at age 96. Martin was a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Alabama Music Hall of Fame and lived in Encinitas, California.

Martin died on March 11, 2011 in California, aged 96.

References

Wendi Rogers (December 14, 2005). "Culture: 'Have Yourself a Blessed Little Christmas,' Composer Hugh Martin and Singer Del Delker Recollect". Adventist News Network. Retrieved 2011-03-21.

Source: Hugh Martin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

Obituary: It's Christmas Eve, 1903, in St. Louis, and some members of the Smith family are anguished about leaving their home for Mr. Smith's new job in New York City. The six-year-old, Tootie (Margaret O'Brien), is especially desolate about having to leave the family of snow people she has helped build in the front yard. Her teenage sister Esther (Judy Garland) has her own miseries, facing separation from the boy next door who just asked her to marry him. To cheer Tootie and comfort herself, Esther sings a seasonal ballad, whose original lyric suggested a suicide note put to music:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

It may be your last.

Next year we may all be living in the past...

Garland and her director, Vincente Minnelli, who were falling in love in 1944 while making Meet Me in St. Louis, asked the film's songwriters, Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, for a slightly less morbid lyric. Martin obliged with...

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Let your heart be light.

Next year all our troubles will be out of sight...

(See a brief history of Christmas caroling.)

...and set the properly poignant tone for one of the loveliest, most longing of Christmas songs. In a career that spanned 70 years, Martin composed many numbers for Broadway and Hollywood musicals. As an arranger and vocal director he helped stars from Garland to Lucille Ball and Lena Horne find that special sparkle. But at his death Friday at 96, in Encinitas, Cal., Martin's most enduring work was a single song written 67 years ago.

Hugh Martin was born Aug. 14, 1914, in Birmingham, Ala., to an architect father and his wife Ellie, who was, the San Diego Tribune reported, "an accomplished musician and a lover of all things New York." That's where Hugh went after studying at Birmingham Southern College, and at 23 he was performing in (and arranging the music for) the Harold Arlen-E.Y. Harburg satire Hooray for What! Also in the chorus was Blane, born Ralph Uriah Hunsecker 16 days before Martin, and fresh from Broken Arrow, Okla. The young men teamed as half of a vocal quartet, The Martins, that appeared on Fred Allen's radio program; and soon they forged a songwriting partnership.

The pair's first Broadway score was for the 1941 Best Food Forward, which spurred the careers of June Allyson, Nancy Walker and Stanley Donen and produced a hit song, the rah-rah "Buckle Down, Winsocki." Martin and Blane were clearly comers. "In five years they'll be the next Rodgers and Hart," a friend rhapsodized to Broadway impresario Max Gordon. The producer's reply: "Bring them back in five years." Instead, Arthur Freed brought them to MGM, where they worked on the movie version of Best Food Forward, importing most of the original cast and adding Ball as star catnip.

(See the top 10 best movie soundtracks.)

The plot for their next project, Meet Me in St. Louis, seemed singularly lacking in incident: a family plans to move to New York, then doesn't. But the Martin-Blane score infused the movie with warmth and verve. It set the time and locale with a jaunty hymn to electric vehicles "The Trolley Song" ("Clang, clang, clang goes the trolley"), cued the wistful tone with Garland's "The Boy Next Door" and served up battered optimism with their merry little holiday anthem. Like the big holiday hits of the previous two war years ("White Christmas," "I'll Be Home for Christmas"), this one served as consolation to women separated by an ocean from the fighting men they loved. After completing the score, Martin left Hollywood to serve in World War II. He and Blane were just 30 that year; neither knew that they had reached a peak they'd never again scale.

The team was unusual, Martin later explained, in that "Ralph and I both wrote music and we both wrote lyrics. Almost always each of us wrote songs unassisted by the other and simply pooled our work." (Martin also said that "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was totally his composition.) In the '50s they collaborated on two Jane Powell musicals, Athena and The Girl Most Likely, and in 1989 wrote new songs for a Broadway version of Meet Me in St Louis. On his own, Martin wrote a 1948 show for Walker, Look, Ma, I'm Dancin'!"; the 1949 Make a Wish, with a book by Preston Sturges; and the 1964 Hugh Spirits, a musicalizing of Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit. With Alec Wilder's assistance he wrote a symphony, New England Suite. But his main employment was as a vocal arranger and accompanist, for Horne, Debbie Reynolds and, most notably, Garland in her comeback concert series at New York's Palace Theatre.

Martin may also have been the only pop compoer of eminence who was also a Seventh Day Adventist. In latter days he served as musical arranger and accompanist for religious-music contralto Del Delker. With the help of Delker and John Fricke, he rewrote his most enduring song as "Have Yourself a Blessed Little Christmas." In sacred or secular form, Hugh Martin's greatest hit remains a carol for all Christmases.

Source: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2058594,00.html#ixzz1K5RnLEmu

Personal Website: Official Site for Hugh Martin, Composer

 

Michael Feinstein Sings the Hugh Martin Songbook, Michael FeinsteinMeet Me In St. Louis (Two-Disc Special Edition)Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsHave Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Lee Greenwood

Listen: Michael Feinstein Sings The Hugh Martin Songbook by Michael Feinstein with Hugh Martin - Download Michael Feinstein Sings The Hugh Martin Songbook on iTunes

Listen: Amazon.com: Judy Garland: Music

Listen: Judy Garland - Download Judy Garland Music on iTunes

Movie: Amazon.com: Meet Me In St. Louis (Two-Disc Special Edition): Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, The Vitaphone Kiddies, Mary Jane Gumm, Virginia Gumm, Marjorie Kane, The Three Gumm Sisters, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer, Leon Ames, Tom Drake, Marjorie Main, Roy Mack, Vincente Minnelli, Doris Gilver, Fred F. Finklehoffe, Irving Brecher, Sally Benson, Sarah Y. Mason, Victor Heerman: Movies & TV

Book: Amazon.com: Hugh Martin: The Boy Next Door (9780615365077): Hugh Martin: Books

Sheet Music: Amazon.com: The Trolley Song: Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane: Books

Book: Amazon.com: The American Songbook: The Singers, Songwriters & The Songs (9781579124489): Ken Bloom, Michael Feinstein: Books

Listen: Amazon.com: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas: MP3 Downloads

Listen: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Lee Greenwood - Download Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas on iTunes

Listen: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Órla Fallon - Download Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas on iTunes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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