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Kander, John

John Kander

Composer

The Big Break

Broadway Success

Film and Television Scores

Awards and Impact

Selected discography

Selected scores

Sources

John Kander is a composer who has produced award-winning work for theater, film, and television. He is best known for his collaborative efforts with lyricist Fred Ebb. For almost 40 years the partners have produced hits for Broadway, such as Cabaret, Chicago, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. In television they are best known for their musical productions with actress, singer, and dancer Liza Minnelli.

John Harold Kander was born on March 18, 1927, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Harold and Berenice (Aaron) Kander. He was exposed to music at an early age, Kander believed that a bout of tuberculosis as a baby, which had kept him isolated from other people, had actually helped him develop his sense of sound. At age six he began taking piano lessons from a woman in the neighborhood. Kander spent many evenings with his parents and brother playing and singing.

Kanders formal musical training began at Oberlin College. While still a student he composed his first theater scores for Second Square and Opus Two in 1950 and Requiem for Geòrgie in 1951. In that same year Kander received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin. He went to attend Columbia University where he earned a Master of Arts degree in 1954. During the summers of 1955 to 1957 he worked as the choral director and conductor of the Warwick Musical Theatre in Rhode Island. Kander began to work steadily as a pianist in 1956 when he landed a job for the pre-Broadway run of The Amazing Adele and An Evening with Beatrice Lillie in Florida.

The Big Break

Kander believed that his big break in New York came by accident. He went to a club in Philadelphia after seeing a performance of West Side Story. By chance he happened to meet the pianist who asked Kander to substitute for him while he went on vacation. The stage manager for West Side Story then asked Kander to play the auditions for her next show, Gypsy. During the auditions Kander met the choreographer, Jerry Rob-bins, who then suggested that Kander actually write the dance music for the show in 1959. After that experience he wrote dance arrangements for Irma la Douce m 1960.

Kander made his Broadway debut in 1962 with a score for the musical A Family Affair, which was produced at the Billy Rose Theatre. While the show was not a success, it nonetheless led to future successes for Kander. The producer of this show, Harold Prince, would work with Kander again. A year later, in 1963, Kander was introduced to lyricist Fred Ebb by the legendary music publisher Tommy Volando. Ebb had been writing songs for nightclub acts and television shows. He had also had an unsuccessful Broadway debut with Morning Sun. Kander and Ebb began to

For the Record

Born John Harold Kander on March 18, 1927, in Kansas City, MO.

Composed first theater scores, 1950; worked as choral director and conductor of the Warwick Musical Theatre, 1955-57; began working as a pianist, 1956; wrote dance music for Gypsy, 1959; wrote dance music for Irma la Douce, 1960; made Broadway debut with score for A Family Affair, 1962; began working with lyricist Fred Ebb, 1963; had a hit with Cabaret, 1966; scored The Happy Time and Zorba, 1968; scored 70, Girls, 70, 1971; scored Chicago, 1975; scored The Act, 1978; scored Woman of the Year, 1981; scored The Rink, 1984; scored The Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1990; scored Steel Pier, 1997; scored Over and Over, 1999; scored The Visit, 2000. Wrote film scores for several films, including; Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979; Places in the Heart, 1984; and Billy Bathgate, 1991. Collaborated with Ebb on several films and television specials.

Awards: Grammy Award, Best Score from an original cast show album for Cabaret, 1967; Tony Award, Best Composer and Lyricist for Cabaret, 1967; Drama Desk Award, Best Composer and Lyricist for Cabaret, 1967; New York Drama Critics Circle Award, Best New Musical for Cabaret, 1967; Emmy Award, Best Music, Lyrics, and Special Material for Liza with a Z, 1973; Tony Award, Best Score for Woman of the Year, 1981; Tony Award, Best Original Score written for the theatre for Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1993; Emmy Award, Best Music Composition for Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall, 1993; Presidents Award, Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, 1996; John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Honorée, 1998; Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in musical theater, York Theatre Company, 2000.

work together and their first song, My Coloring Book, was nominated for a Grammy award.

Broadway Success

Kander and Ebbs first theatrical collaboration, the Golden Gate, never opened on Broadway. However, the score convinced Harold Prince, the producer from A Family Affair, to hire the pair for his next production called Flora, the Red Menace. The show opened at the Alvin Theatre in 1965. While it was not a hit, the experience solidified the team of Kander and Ebb. The show was the Broadway debut for the young Liza Minnelli, who would also work with Kander and Ebb again.

Kander and Ebb worked with Prince the following year on the production that brought the pair fame. On November 20, 1966, Cabaret opened at the Broad-hurst Theatre and ran for 1, 166 performances. The story about a relationship between a German cabaret performer and an American writer in pre-Nazi Berlin was based on the book Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood and the play I Am a Camera by John Van Druten. The show won the 1966 Tony Award for best musical and Kander and Ebb won for best score, In 1972 Cabaret was adapted to film starring Liza Minnelli and won several Oscars. The play was revived at the Imperial Theatre in 1987 with some of the original cast returning to their same roles. It was revived again in 1998 when it won another Tony for best revival.

After the success of Cabaret the partnership of Kander and Ebb was strengthened and they continued to work together on Broadway. In 1968 they wrote the music for The Happy Time, produced at the Broadway Theatre, and for Zorba, produced at the Imperial Theatre. In 1971 the team wrote music for 70, Girls, 70 at the Broadhurst Theatre.

Their next big Broadway success came in 1975 with the help of Bob Fosse and Chicago. This musical was based on a 1926 play written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. It was a story about a chorus girl who murdered her husband and then used the ensuing trial to boost her show business career. The show opened on June 3, 1975, at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 898 performances. It starred Gwen Verdón, Chita Rivera, and Jerry Orbachi and included the popular songs All That Jazz and Razzie Dazzle. While the musical was nominated for 11 Tony awards, it did not win any because of the overwhelming success of A Chorus Line. However, the show was revived again in 1997 and won six Tony awards, including best revival, best choreography, and best direction.

Kander and Ebb continued their collaboration with The Act in 1978. They received their second Tony award in 1981 for Woman of the Year. That production won three other Tony awards, including one for actress Lauren Bacali. In 1984 the duo worked on The Rink for the Martin Beck Theatre, which starred Minnelli and Rivera. While The Rink did not do well on Broadway, Kander considered it one of his favorite musicals because the songs were very emotional.

Success returned to Kander and Ebb with The Kiss of the Spider Woman, a play based on the novel El Beso de la Mujer Arana by Manuel Puig about two men in a Latin American prison. The show was produced in Toronto, Canada, in 1990 and then at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London in 1992. It made its Broadway debut on May 3, 1993, at the Broadhurst Theatre where it ran for 906 performances. Kander and Ebb won a Tony award for best musical score and actress Chita Rivera also won for her role. The show also won a New York Drama Critics award for best musical.

Kander and Ebbs next two productions were not as critically acclaimed. In 1997 they wrote the music for Steel Pier, a play about a dance marathoner during the depression. In 1999 they wrote the music for Over and Over, a play based on the book The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder. In 2000 Kander and Ebb were working on a new musical together called The Visit based on a play by Friedrich Durrenmatt.

Film and Television Scores

Kanders career has not been limited to theater. He has written scores for several films. These include: Something for Everyone (1969), A Matter of Time (1976), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Still of the Night (1982), Blue Skies Again (1983), Places in the Heart (1984), I Want to Go Home (1989), and Billy Bathgate (1991). He also collaborated with Ebb for one of their most famous accomplishments, New York, New York (1977). The duo also wrote music for Cabaret (1972), Funny Lady and Lucky Lady (1975), and French Postcards (1979).

Kander and Ebb also collaborated on music for several television specials. In 1974 they won an Emmy award for their work on Liza with a Zand the soundtrack also won a Grammy Award. They won another Emmy in 1993 for Liza Minnelli in London, Steppin Out. The partners also worked with Minnelli on Goldie and Liza Together (1980), Standing Room Only: Liza in London (1986), Liza Minnelli: A Triple Play (1988), and Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall (1992). Additionally, the duet created music for Shirley MacLains Gypsy in My Soul (1976), Baryshnikov on Broadway (1980), Breathing Lessons (1995) and The Boys Next Door (1995). Kander and Ebb also wrote music for two Academy Awards presentations in 1988 and 1993.

Awards and Impact

In addition to his Tony, Grammy, and Emmy awards, Kander has received other public acknowledgments for his contributions to music. He received honorary doctorate degrees from Oberlin College in 1988 and Niagara University in 1994, where he is also a guest lecturer. In 1996 he received the Presidents Award from the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. In 1998 both Kander and Ebb were Kennedy Center Honorées and in 2000 they were awarded the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in musical theater by the York Theatre Company of New York City.

For almost four decades Kander and Ebb have been writing music together for theater, film, and television. Their collaboration is a true partnership. As Kander explained, the two always work together in the same room at the same time when they are writing. In a February 1997 article in American Theatre, Marilyn Stasio wrote that The two artists who do not always agree with each other have nevertheless maintained a perfect balance in their work. They complement each other as Kanders lyricism sweetens Ebbs wit and Ebbs cynicism toughens up Kanders raging romanticism.

While the two artists have been successful in many endeavors, they have left the biggest impression on Broadway. As Kander stated in a February 1997 article with Marilyn Stasio in American Theatre, if youre going to write on a canvas of some size, the Broadway theatre is still the only place that offers you that opportunity. They have created a unique style of musical theater that is characterized by youthful joy and romanticism. In an April 1997 article in the New York Times, Ethan Mordden wrote, Mr. Kander and Mr. Ebb celebrate the Big Break, the American love of show biz, making it, performance. Their musicals may be set in Germany, Greece, or South America, may defy Fascism or flirt with death. But at the center of their art lies a love of the talent-take-all wonder of entertainment.

Selected discography

Flora, the Red Menace, RCA Victor, 1965.

Cabaret (original cast recording), Columbia, 1967.

The Happy Time (original cast recording), RCA, 1968.

Zorba (original cast recording), Capitol, 1969.

70, Girls, 70 (original cast recording), Sony, 1971.

Chicago (original cast recording), Arista, 1975.

New York, New York (film soundtrack), EMI, 1977.

Woman of the Year (original cast recording), Arista, 1981.

The Rink (original cast recording), TER, 1984.

And the World Goes Round (original cast recording), RCA Victor, 1991.

An Evening with John Kander and Fred Ebb, DRG, 1992.

Kiss of the Spider Woman (original cast recording), RCA Victor, 1993.

Steel Pier (original cast recording), RCA Victor, 1997.

Selected scores

Stage; with Fred Ebb

Flora, the Red Menace, 1965.

Cabaret, 1966.

The Happy Time, 1968.

Zorba, 1968.

70, Girls, 70, 1971.

Chicago, 1975.

The Act, 1978.

Woman of the Year, 1981.

The Rink, 1984.

And the World Goes Round, 1991.

Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1993.

Steel Pier, 1997.

Over and Over, 1999.

Film

Something for Everyone, 1969.

(With Fred Ebb) Funny Lady, 1975.

(With Fred Ebb) Lucky Lady, 1975.

(With Fred Ebb) New York, New York, 1977.

Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979.

Still of the Night, 1982.

Blue Skies Again, 1983.

Places in the Heart, 1984.

I Want to Go Home, 1989.

Billy Bathgate, 1991.

Television; with Fred Ebb

Liza with a Z, 1974.

Gypsy in My Soul, 1976.

Goldie and Liza Together, 1980.

Baryshnikov on Broadway, 1980.

Liza Minnelli in London, Steppin Out, 1993.

Breathing Lessons, 1995.

The Boys Next Door, 1995.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, volume 13, Gale Research, 1995.

Guernsey, Otis J., Broadway Song and Story: Playwrights/ Lyricists/Composers Discuss Their Hits, Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1985.

Periodicals

American Theatre, February 1997, p. 10.

New York Times, April 13, 1997, p. 4.

Variety, September 27, 1999, p. 157.

Online

John Kander, http://www.niagara.edu/theatre/faculty/kander.html (February 17, 2001).

The Kennedy Center Honors, http://kennedy-center.org/honors/history/honoree/kander-ebb.html (February 17, 2001).

The Music of Kander and Ebb: Razzie Dazzle, http://www.wnet.org/gperf/features/html/meet_meet.html (February 17, 2001).

Janet Stamatel

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Kander, John 1927-

Kander, John 1927-

PERSONAL

Full name, John Harold Kander; born March 18, 1927, in Kansas City, MO; son of Harold S. and Bernice (maiden name, Aaron) Kander. Education: Oberlin College, B.A., 1951; Columbia University, M.A., 1954.

Addresses:

Agent—International Creative Management, 10250 Constellation Way, 9th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067.

Career:

Composer, director, conductor, and musician. Warwick Musical Theatre, Warwick, RI, choral director and conductor, 1955-57; Niagara University, guest lecturer. Also performs as a pianist.

Member:

Dramatists Guild, National Institute of Musical Theatre, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

Awards, Honors:

Grammy Award nomination (with Fred Ebb), song of the year, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1962, for "My Coloring Book"; Grammy Award (with Ebb), best score from an original cast show album, Antoinette Perry Award (with Ebb), best composer and lyricist, Drama Desk Award (with Ebb), best composer and lyricist, and New York Drama Critics' Circle Award (with Ebb and Joe Masteroff), best new musical, all 1967, London Theatre Critics Award (with Ebb), best musical, Plays & Players, 1968, all for Cabaret; Antoinette Perry Award nomination (with Ebb), best composer and lyricist, and Grammy Award nomination (with Ebb), best score from an original cast show album, both 1968, for The Happy Time; Antoinette Perry Award nomination (with Ebb), best musical, and Grammy Award nomination (with Ebb), best score from an original cast show album, both 1969, for Zorba; Emmy Award (with Ebb), best music, lyrics, and special material, and Emmy Award nomination (with Ebb), best music composition, both 1973, for Liza with a "Z"; Golden Globe Award nomination (with Ebb), best original score for a motion picture, 1976, for Funny Lady; Academy Award nomination (with Ebb), best song, and Golden Globe Award nomination (with Ebb), best original song for a motion picture, both 1976, for "How Lucky Can You Get," Funny Lady; Grammy Award nomination (with Ebb), best cast show album, and Antoinette Perry Award nomination (with Ebb), best score, both 1976, and London Theatre Critics Award (with Ebb and Bob Fosse), best musical, 1979, all for Chicago; Antoinette Perry Award nomination (with Ebb), best score, 1978, for The Act; Grammy Award nomination (with Ebb), song of the year, 1980, for "Theme," New York, New York; Antoinette Perry Award (with Ebb), best score, and Grammy Award nomination (with Ebb), best cast show album, both 1981, for Woman of the Year; Antoinette Perry Award nomination (with Ebb), best score, 1984, for The Rink; Emmy Award nomination, music composition for a miniseries or special (dramatic underscore), 1986, for An Early Frost; honorary doctorate, Oberlin College, 1988; inducted into Theatre Hall of Fame, 1991; Antoinette Perry Award (with Ebb), and New York Drama Critics' Circle Award (with Ebb), both best original score written for the theatre, 1993, and Drama Desk Award (with Ebb), outstanding music, 1993, all for Kiss of the Spider Woman; Emmy Award (with Ebb), best music composition, 1993, for "Sorry I Asked," Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall; honorary doctorate, Niagara University, 1994; President's Award, Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, 1996; Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, 1998; Helen Hayes Award (with Ebb), American Express Tribute, 1999; Oscar Hammerstein Award (with Ebb), lifetime achievement in musical theatre, York Theatre Company, 2000; Academy Award nomination (with Ebb), best music—original song, Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music nomination (with Ebb and Danny Elfman), British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 2003, Grammy Award nomination (with Ebb), best song written for a motion picture, television or other visual media, 2004, all for Chicago; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best original score, Drama Desk Award nominations, outstanding lyrics and outstanding music, 2007, all for Curtains; Special Drama Desk Award, 2007, for 42 years of excellence in advancing the art of the musical theatre; also inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame.

CREDITS

Stage Work:

Pianist, The Amazing Adele, New York City, 1956.

Pianist, An Evening with Bea Lillie, FL, 1956.

Conductor, Conversation Piece, Barbizon Plaza Theatre, New York City, 1957.

Dance music arranger, Gypsy, Broadway Theatre, New York City, 1959.

Dance music arranger, Irma la Douce, Plymouth Theatre, New York City, 1960.

Dance music arranger, Gypsy, St. James Theatre, New York City, 1989-90.

Music director, Three Men on a Horse, Lyceum Theatre, New York City, 1993.

Creative consultant, Liza's Back, Royal Albert Hall, London, 2002.

Television Work; Movies:

Producer, Shoot First: A Cop's Vengeance (also known as Cause of Death, Death of a San Antonio Cop, and The San Antonio Cops), NBC, 1991.

Dance music arranger, Gypsy, CBS, 1993.

Television Appearances; Specials:

"The Music of Kander and Ebb: Razzle Dazzle," Great Performances, PBS, 1997.

The 51st Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1997.

The Kennedy Center Honors (also known as The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts), CBS, 1998.

AFI's 100 Years … 100 Songs, CBS, 2004.

Broadway: The American Musical, PBS, 2004.

Presenter, The 61st Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 2007.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Dinah! (also known as Dinah! & Friends), 1975.

"Mister Abbott's Broadway," Omnibus, 1994.

"Soundtrack," Walk On By: The Story of the Popular Song (also known as Popular Song: Soundtrack of the Century and The Story of Pop), BBC and ABC, 2001.

Film Work:

Coproducer, Superheroes, 2007.

Film Appearances:

Himself, "Cabaret": A Legend in the Making, 1997.

RECORDINGS

Original Cast Albums:

(With James and William Goldman) A Family Affair, 1961.

(With Fred Ebb) Flora, the Red Menace, c. 1965.

(With Ebb) Cabaret, Columbia, 1967.

(With Ebb) The Happy Time, RCA, 1968.

(With Ebb) Zorba, Capitol, 1969.

(With Ebb) 70, Girls, 70, 1971.

(With Ebb) Chicago, Artist, 1975.

(With Ebb) Woman of the Year, Arista, 1981.

(With Ebb) The Rink, 1984.

(With Ebb) Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1993, second Broadway cast recording, 1995.

A Letter from Sullivan Ballou, RCA, 1994.

Other Albums:

And the World Goes 'Round: The Songs of Kander and Ebb, c. 1991.

(With Lucile Adler) 3 Songs to Poem by Lucile Adler, 1992.

Singles include (with Fred Ebb) "My Coloring Book," Colpix, c. 1962.

WRITINGS

Stage Music:

Second Square, Theatre at Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, 1950.

Opus Two, Theatre at Oberlin College, 1950.

Requiem for Georgie, Theatre at Oberlin College, 1951.

(With James Goldman and William Goldman) A Family Affair, Billy Rose Theatre, New York City, 1962.

Never Too Late, Playhouse Theatre, New York City, 1962.

Flora, the Red Menace (lyrics by Fred Ebb), Alvin Theatre, New York City, 1965, revival with new songs, Vineyard Theatre, New York City, 1987.

Cabaret (lyrics by Ebb), Broadhurst Theatre, New York City, 1966, published by Random House (New York City), 1967, revised selections published as The Complete Cabaret Collection: Vocal Selections, Carlin America/Hal Leonard, 1999.

The Happy Time (lyrics by Ebb), Broadway Theatre, New York City, 1968.

Zorba (lyrics by Ebb), Imperial Theatre, New York City, 1968, published by Random House, 1969.

70, Girls, 70 (lyrics by Ebb), Broadhurst Theatre, 1971.

Contributor of original material (lyrics by Ebb), Liza, Winter Garden Theatre, New York City, 1974.

Chicago (libretto by Ebb and Bob Fosse; lyrics by Ebb), St. James Theatre, New York City, 1975.

In Person, Chicago, IL, 1977, produced as The Act (lyrics by Ebb), Martin Beck Theatre, New York City, 1978.

Woman of the Year (lyrics by Ebb), Palace Theatre, New York City, 1981.

"Playing the Palace," Parade of Stars Playing the Palace, Palace Theatre, 1983.

The Rink (lyrics by Ebb), Martin Beck Theatre, 1984.

"A New Pair of Shoes," Night of 100 Stars II, Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1985.

Contributor, Diamonds, Circle in the Square Downtown, New York City, 1985, published by Samuel French (New York City), 1986.

Contributor of special material (lyrics by Ebb) Chita Rivera in the Grove, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Miami, FL, 1990-91.

Kiss of the Spider Woman (lyrics by Ebb), produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1990, then Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 1992, later Broadhurst Theatre, 1992-93, published by Samuel French, 1997.

And the World Goes 'Round: The Songs of Kander and Ebb (lyrics by Ebb), Downstairs, Westside Theatre, New York City, 1991, published by Fiddleback Music Publishing, 1991.

Contributor of special material (lyrics by Ebb) Liza Minnelli: Stepping out at Radio City, Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1991.

Incidental music, The Crucible, Belasco Theatre, New York City, 1991-92.

A Letter from Sullivan Ballou (commissioned by Richard Tucker foundation), Avery Fisher Hall, New York City, 1993.

Steel Pier (lyrics by Ebb), Richard Rodgers Theatre, New York City, published by Samuel French, 1998.

The Visit (lyrics by Ebb), Colonial Theatre, Boston, MA, 1998.

Over and Over (lyrics by Ebb), Signature Theatre, Arlington, VA, 1999.

Lyrics and Lyricists: A Tribute to John Kander and Fred Ebb, Theatre at the 92nd Street Y, New York City, 2000.

70 Girls 70, York Theatre at St. Peter's, New York City, 2000.

The Visit, Goodman Theatre, Chicago, IL, 2001.

Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, New York City, 2005-2006.

Curtains, Al Hirschfeld Theatre, New York City, 2007—.

Also composer for a production of The Skin of Our Teeth.

Stage Plays:

70 Girls 70, York Theatre at St. Peter's, New York City, 2000.

Film Music:

Score, Something for Everyone (also known as Black Flowers for the Bride and The Rook), National General, 1969.

Score, Cabaret (lyrics by Ebb), Allied Artists, 1972.

Score, Norman Rockwell's World … an American Dream (short; lyrics by Ebb), 1972.

Songs (lyrics by Ebb), "How Lucky Can You Get," "I Like Him/Her," and "Let's Hear It for Me," Funny Lady, Columbia, 1975.

Songs (lyrics by Ebb), "Get While the Gettin' Is Good" and title song, Lucky Lady, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1975.

Score, A Matter of Time (also known as Nina; lyrics by Ebb), American International Pictures, 1976.

Score, New York, New York (lyrics by Ebb; includes theme song), United Artists, 1977.

Score, French Postcards (lyrics by Ebb), Paramount, 1979.

Score, Kramer vs. Kramer (lyrics by Ebb), Columbia, 1979.

Song (lyrics by Ebb), "New York, New York," They All Laughed, 1981.

Score, Still of the Night, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1982.

Song (lyrics by Ebb), "New York, New York," Tempest, 1982.

Score, Blue Skies Again, Warner Bros., 1983.

Score, Places in the Heart (lyrics by Ebb), TriStar, 1984.

Score, I Want to Go Home (also known as Je veux rentrer a la maison), MK2, 1989.

Score, Billy Bathgate, 1991.

Title song (lyrics by Ebb), Stepping Out, 1991.

Score, Hasidism in America, 1996.

Score, Chicago (lyrics by Ebb), Miramax, 2002.

Film Music Adapter:

(Purcell's Sonanta) Kramer vs. Kramer, Columbia, 1979.

Television Music; Specials:

Liza with a "Z" (also known as Singer Presents "Liza with a ‘Z’"; lyrics by Ebb), NBC, 1972.

Sorbas, 1972.

Contributor of special musical material, Magnavox Presents Frank Sinatra (also known as Frank Sinatra: Ol' Blue Eyes is Back), 1973.

"Story 2," in Three for the Girls (lyrics by Ebb), CBS, 1973.

Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back (lyrics by Ebb), 1974.

Gypsy in My Soul (lyrics by Ebb), CBS, 1976.

Goldie and Liza Together (lyrics by Ebb), CBS, 1980.

Baryshnikov on Broadway (lyrics by Ebb), 1980.

Standing Room Only: Liza in London (lyrics by Ebb), HBO, 1986.

(With others) Liza Minnelli in Sam Found Out: A Triple Play (also known as Liza Minnelli: Triple Play and Sam Found Out: A Triple Play; lyrics by Ebb), ABC, 1988.

Contributor of special music material (with Ebb), The 60th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1988.

Contributor of special music material (with Ebb) Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall, PBS, 1992.

"Ladies Day at Last" (lyrics by Ebb), The 65th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1993.

Television Music; Movies:

An Early Frost, NBC, 1985.

Breathing Lessons, CBS, 1994.

The Boys Next Door, CBS, 1996.

Television Theme Songs; Series:

"Mama Malone" (lyrics by Ebb), Mama Malone, 1984.

"We're All Right" (lyrics by Ebb), The Thorns, ABC, 1988.

Memoir:

(With Fred Ebb as told to Greg Lawrence) Colored Lights: Forty Years of Words and Music, Show Biz, Collaboration, and All That Jazz, Faber & Faber, 2003.

OTHER SOURCES

Books:

Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement, Volume 21, Gale, 2001.

Guernsey, Otis J., editor, Broadway Song and Story: Playwrights/Lyricists/Composers Discuss Their Hits, Dodd (New York City), 1985.

Periodicals:

American Theatre, February, 1997, p. 10; November, 2003, p. 22.

Billboard, September 25, 2004, p. 8.

Entertainment Weekly, November 21, 2003, p. 91.

New York Times, April 13, 1997, p. 4.

Opera News, April, 2006, p. 8.

Playbill, November 30, 2001, pp. 27-28; April 30, 2003, p. 21-22.

USA Today, April 23, 1997.

Variety, September 27, 1999, p. 157; February 9, 2004, p. 95; March 19, 2007, p. 36.

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"Kander, John 1927-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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John Kander

John Kander

John Kander (born 1927) is a composer who has produced award-winning work for theater, film, and television. He is best known for his collaborative efforts with lyricist Fred Ebb. For almost 40 years the partners have produced hits for Broadway, such as Cabaret, Chicago, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. In television they are best known for their musical productions with actress, singer, and dancer Liza Minnelli.

John Harold Kander was born on March 18, 1927 in Kansas City, Missouri to Harold and Berenice (Aaron) Kander. He was exposed to music at an early age. Kander believed that a bout of tuberculosis as a baby, which had kept him isolated from other people, had actually helped him develop his sense of sound. At age six he began taking piano lessons from a woman in the neighborhood. Kander spent many evenings with his parents and brother playing and singing.

Kander's formal musical training began at Oberlin College. While still a student he composed his first theater scores for Second Square and Opus Two in 1950 and Requiem for Georgie in 1951. In that same year Kander received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin. He went on to attend Columbia University where he earned a Master of Arts degree in 1954. During the summers of 1955 to 1957 he worked as the choral director and conductor of the Warwick Musical Theatre in Rhode Island. Kander began to work steadily as a pianist in 1956 when he landed a job for the pre-Broadway run of The Amazing Adele and An Evening with Beatrice Lillie in Florida.

The Big Break

Kander believed that his big break in New York came by accident. He went to a club in Philadelphia after seeing a performance of West Side Story. By chance he happened to meet the pianist who asked Kander to substitute for him while he went on vacation. The stage manager for West Side Story then asked Kander to play the auditions for her next show Gypsy. During the auditions Kander met the choreographer, Jerry Robbins, who then suggested that Kander actually write the dance music for the show in 1959. After that experience he wrote dance arrangements for Irma la Douce in 1960.

Kander made his Broadway debut in 1962 with a score for the musical A Family Affair, which was produced at the Billy Rose Theatre. While the show was not a success, it nonetheless led to future successes for Kander. The producer of this show, Harold Prince, would work with Kander again. A year later, in 1963, Kander was introduced to lyricist Fred Ebb by the legendary music publisher Tommy Volando. Ebb had been writing songs for nightclub acts and television shows. He had also had an unsuccessful Broadway debut with Morning Sun. Kander and Ebb began to work together and their first song, My Coloring Book, was nominated for a Grammy award.

Broadway Success

Kander and Ebb's first theatrical collaboration, the Golden Gate never opened on Broadway. However, the score convinced Harold Prince, the producer from A Family Affair (1962), to hire the pair for his next production called Flora, the Red Menace. The show opened at the Alvin Theatre in 1965. While it was not a hit, the experience solidified the team of Kander and Ebb. The show was the Broadway debut for the young Liza Minnelli, who would also work with Kander and Ebb again.

Kander and Ebb worked with Harold Prince the following year on the production that brought the pair fame. On November 20, 1966 Cabaret opened at the Broadhurst Theatre and ran for 1,166 performances. The story about a relationship between a German cabaret performer and an American writer in pre-Nazi Berlin was based on the book Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood and the play I Am a Camera by John Van Druten. The show won the 1966 Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for best musical and Kander and Ebb won for best score. In 1972 Cabaret was adapted to film starring Liza Minnelli and won several Oscars. The play was revived at the Imperial Theatre in 1987 with some of the original cast returning to their same roles. It was revived again in 1998 when it won another Tony for best revival.

After the success of Cabaret the partnership of Kander and Ebb was strengthened and they continued to work together on Broadway. In 1968 they wrote the music for The Happy Time, produced at the Broadway Theatre, and for Zorba, produced at the Imperial Theatre. In 1971 the team wrote music for 70, Girls, 70 at the Broadhurst Theatre.

Their next big Broadway success came in 1975 with the help of Bob Fosse and Chicago. This musical was based on a 1926 play written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. It was a story about a chorus girl who murdered her husband and then used the ensuing trial to boost her show business career. The show opened on June 3, 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 898 performances. It starred Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, and Jerry Orbach and included the popular songs All That Jazz and Razzle Dazzle. While the musical was nominated for 11 Tony awards, it did not win any because of the overwhelming success of A Chorus Line. However, the show was revived again in 1997 and won six Tony awards, including best revival, best choreography, and best direction.

Kander and Ebb continued their collaboration with The Act in 1978. They received their second Tony award in 1981 for Woman of the Year. That production won three other Tony awards, including one for actress Lauren Bacall. In 1984 the duo worked on The Rink for the Martin Beck Theatre, which starred Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera. While The Rink did not do well on Broadway, Kander considered it one of his favorite musicals because the songs were very emotional.

Success returned to Kander and Ebb with The Kiss of the Spider Woman, a play based on the novel El Beso de la Mujer Arana by Manuel Puig about two men in a Latin American prison. The show was produced in Toronto, Canada in 1990 and then at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London in 1992. It made its Broadway debut on May 3, 1993 at the Broadhurst Theatre where it ran for 906 performances. Kander and Ebb won a Tony award for best musical score and actress Chita Rivera also won for her role. The show also won a New York Drama Critics award for best musical.

Kander and Ebb's next two productions were not as critically acclaimed. In 1997 they wrote the music for Steel Pier, a play about a dance marathoner during the depression. In 1999 they wrote the music for Over and Over, a play based on the book The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder. In 2000 Kander and Ebb were working on a new musical together called The Visit based on a play by Friedrich Durrenmatt.

Film and Television Scores

Kander's career has not been limited to theater. He has written scores for several films. These include: Something for Everyone (1969), A Matter of Time (1976), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Still of the Night (1982), Blue Skies Again (1983), Places in the Heart (1984), I Want to Go Home (1989), and Billy Bathgate (1991). He also collaborated with Ebb for one of their most famous accomplishments, New York, New York (1977). The duo also wrote music for Cabaret (1972), Funny Lady and Lucky Lady (1975), and French Postcards (1979).

Kander and Ebb also collaborated on music for several television specials. In 1974 they won an Emmy award for their work on Liza with 'Z' and the soundtrack also won a Grammy award. They won another Emmy in 1993 for Liza Minnelli in London, Steppin' Out. The partners also worked with Minnelli on Goldie and Liza Together (1980), Standing Room Only: Liza in London (1986), Liza Minnelli: A Triple Play (1988), and Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall (1992). Additionally, the duet created music for Shirley MacLain's Gypsy in My Soul (1976), Baryshnikov on Broadway (1980), Breathing Lessons (1995) and The Boys Next Door (1995). Kander and Ebb also wrote music for two Academy Awards presentations in 1988 and 1993.

Awards and Impact

In addition to his Tony, Grammy, and Emmy awards, Kander has received other public acknowledgements for his contributions to music. He received honorary doctorate degrees from Oberlin College in 1988 and Niagara University in 1994, where he is also a guest lecturer. In 1996 he received the President's Award from the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. In 1998 both Kander and Ebb were Kennedy Center Honorees and in 2000 they were awarded the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in musical theater by the York Theatre Company of New York City.

For almost four decades Kander and Ebb have been writing music together for theater, film, and television. Their collaboration is a true partnership. As Kander explained, the two always work together in the same room at the same time when they are writing. In a February 1997 article in American Theatre, Marilyn Stasio wrote that "The two artists who do not always agree with each other have nevertheless maintained a perfect balance in their work. They complement each other as Kander's lyricism sweetens Ebb's wit and Ebb's cynicism toughens up Kander's raging romanticism."

While the two artists have been successful in many endeavors, they have left the biggest impression on Broadway. As Kander stated in a February 1997 article with Marilyn Stasio in American Theatre, "if you're going to write on a canvas of some size, the Broadway theatre is still the only place that offers you that opportunity." They have created a unique style of musical theater that is characterized by youthful joy and romanticism. In an April 1997 article in the New York Times, Ethan Mordden wrote, "Mr. Kander and Mr. Ebb celebrate the Big Break, the American love of show biz, making it, performance. Their musicals may be set in Germany, Greece, or South America, may defy Fascism or flirt with death. But at the center of their art lies a love of the talent-take-all wonder of entertainment."

Books

Broadway Song and Story: Playwrights/Lyricists/Composers Discuss Their Hits, edited by Otis J. Guernsey, Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1985.

Periodicals

American Theatre, February 1997, p. 10.

New York Times, April 13, 1997, p. 4.

Variety, September 27, 1999, p. 157.

Online

"John Kander," http://www.niagara.edu/theatre/faculty/kander.html (February 17, 2001).

"The Kennedy Center Honors," http://kennedy-center.org/honors/history/honoree/kander-ebb.html (February 17, 2001).

"The Music of Kander and Ebb: Razzle Dazzle," http://www.wnet.org/gperf/features/html/meet-meet.html (February 17, 2001). □

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