Alan Jay Lerner (1918-1986)




YouTube Preview

Alan Jay Lerner was most famous as the lyric-writing half of Lerner & Loewe. However, this Choate/Harvard-educated sophisticate was also a distinguished librettist and screenwriter. A scion of the prosperous family that founded the Lerner Shops, young Alan Lerner was accorded the highest compliment by his highly critical, flamboyant father who opined, “The harder Alan works, the luckier he gets.” This Lerner “luck” was certainly at work once the young Man of Words hit his stride with Frederick Loewe in the mid 1940s:

With Frederick Loewe:
GIGI (1958 film)
CAMELOT (1960)

With Burton Lane:
ROYAL WEDDING (1951 film)

Close on the heels of his first Broadway success, Hollywood beckoned, and in 1950 Lerner received a screenwriting Oscar for the classic “An American in Paris”.

Other decidedly less successful outings were with Kurt Weill on LOVE LIFE (1949), with Andre Previn on COCO (1969) starring Katharine Hepburn, with Leonard Bernstein on 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE (1976), and finally with Charles Strouse in 1983 on DANCE A LITTLE CLOSER (which closed after only a few performances).

Always erudite and charming, Lerner wrote several excellent books about the theatre, one a memoir, another a first-rate history of the Musical Theatre.

Lyricists have commonly played a subordinate role in the public´s view of songwriting. However, Alan Jay Lerner´s uncommon finesse and wit always placed him easily alongside any great American craftsman of words or music. As critic Clive Barnes wrote at the time of Lerner´s death, the world had grown “accustomed to his grace.”

If you would like to engage Fred Miller for one of his Lectures-in-Song, please contact him directly at any time. For a full listing of all Lectures, click here.

Fred Miller’s Lectures-In-Song comprise a series of solo programs, each an historical, anecdotal and musical profile of some great personality or important aspect of American Popular Song. These Lectures are delivered by singer/pianist/narrator Miller at the piano, and each reflects his lifetime passion and appreciation for great music. He studied classical piano in his hometown of Albuquerque from ages 7-15 but early on gave up any notion of music as a profession. At that time, Fred assumed a musical career was either one devoted to the rigid discipline of classical music or being a freewheeling rock star, and he accurately decided he had no aptitude for either. However, at age 22, upon hearing Ella Fitzgerald sing Cole Porter, he found his calling and life’s mission.

Through the Seventies and Eighties, Miller studied and absorbed in minute detail the life and times and songs of nearly all the great American composers and lyricists who thrived during Broadway & Hollywood’s Golden Age between the two World Wars. In 1987, he founded Silver Dollar Productions in order to produce operettas, dramas, musicals and small cabarets. Silver Dollar Productions required ensemble casts, props, costumes and, most significantly, the challenges of publicity and selling tickets, and for a dozen busy years, the company presented an unbroken string of varied and highly lauded performances.

In 1999, Miller was simultaneously underwritten by both his local Hunterdon County Library and the Art Alliance of Philadelphia to present a series of six solo Lectures-In-Song, each devoted to one of the premiere Broadway/Hollywood songwriters: George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen.

In presenting history, biography and psychology while sitting at a piano singing the superlative songs of his heroes, Miller has found a single performing medium that utilizes most of his intellectual and musical passions.The list of Lectures-In-Song that began with six in 1999 is now more than seventy(and growing!), a joyful tribute to the boundlessly rich field of American Popular Song.