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HOWARD DIETZ  

(1896 - 1983)

Lyricist, Librettist
(1896-1983)

Howard Dietz was well connected in the world of show business when, in 1928, he met composer Arthur Schwartz with whom he would do his finest work. He was friends with George Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, and Oscar Hammerstein II in school and college. In 1924 he collaborated with Jerome Kern on Dear Sir, which ran for only 15 performances.

But from 1929 to 1953 Dietz and Schwartz created some of America’s best popular music for Broadway shows, much of which has become part of the jazz standards repertoire: “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” (1929), “Something to Remember You By” (1930), “Dancing in the Dark” (1931), “Alone Together,” “Louisiana Hayride” and “A Shine on Your Shoes” (1932), “You and the Night and the Music” and “If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You” (1934), “I See Your Face Before Me” and “By Myself” (1938). Dietz’s range of lyrics ran from the playful “I Love Louisa” (1931) to “Haunted Heart” (1948), a wistful tale of lost love.

After his fruitful collaboration with Schwartz, Dietz became head of publicity at MGM where he created the studio’s lion trademark. In 1953 he reunited with Schwartz to create a film from their 1931 show The Band Wagon which introduced their show-stopping new song, “That’s Entertainment” and was nominated for a Best Score Oscar.

Dietz was also a serious opera buff and translated the lyrics of Der Fledermaus and La Boheme into English. He was an excellent bridge player, and he wrote an entertaining autobiography, Dancing in the Dark.

-- Sandra Burlingame

Courtesy of JazzStandards.com

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