Price: $1200.00



Phone: 212-860-5541 

Scarce autographed musical quotation to his wife, Anya Taranda Arlen using his pet name for her Anyushe on the 5.5” x 8” free end paper of an unnamed book.  He has penned the opening bar of his song, “What Can You Say In a Love Song (Which Hasn’t Been Said Before?) from the Broadway Show, “Life Begins at 8:40”, June 17, 1963.  We include an original uncommon sepia 8” x 10” matte, doubleweight photograph of Harold and Anya in the back yard of their home in Beverly Hills dating to the early 1940’s. The page is most previously ex Nancy Salisbury Estate and was framed and sold to her by The Argosy Bookstore in Manhattan. 


Arlen, (Chaim Arluck) (1905-1986) remains one of America’s truly greatest song writers, with hits like, “Over the Rainbow”, “Stormy Weather”, “That Old Black Magic”, “I Love a Parade”, “Lydia the Tattooed Lady”, “Get Happy”, “It’s Only A Paper Moon”, “Blues In The Night”, “Come Rain or Come Shine”, “The Man That Got Away” and many, many more.


Arlen met his future wife, the stunning fashion model and show girl Anya Taranda (1915-1970), when he composed songs for the Broadway variety show, “Earl Carroll’s Vanities” of 1932.  Anya was a chorus girl and dancer in the show.  She was seventeen at the time and had both a New York and Hollywood dancing career, as well as credit in as a model in major advertising campaigns, including being the very first Breck Shampoo girl.  He was smitten with her and whilst shy at first invited her to dinner at his apartment on East 86th Street.  Despite objections from his parents, the orthodox, Jewish cantor, the Reverend Samuel Arluck and his wife Celia and her Russian Orthodox parents, the two fell in love and eventually married when she reached the age of twenty two in 1937 with only Arlen’s brother Jerry and his manager Abe Berman present.  A true love story, they remained married despite her multiple confinements to a psychiatric institute and her early death in 1970.


Arlen was hired in 1933 by the Schubert’s, along with Ira Gershwin and his friend, protégé and classmate, Yip Harburg to write the music and lyrics of a new Broadway variety show called, “Life Begin’s at 8:40”.  The show was built on the Earl Carroll model which was essentially a higher brow Vaudeville affair, but not to the extensive level of Florenz Ziegfeld.  The change was a single composer and limited librettists.  Arlen wanted Anya hired for the show and she was in Hollywood filming prior to the Broadway opening. Despite the fact that Arlen’s old roommate the famed hoofer and singing actor, Ray Bolger and the old Vaudevillian Burt Lahr who later would star in “The Wizard of Oz” were in the cast, Arlen had the show opening held for a few days so she could return from California.  Anya was given two songs to sing in the show.  The duet, “What Can You Say In a Love Song (Which Hasn’t Been Said Before?)” was written for Josephine Houston and Earl Oxford and closed the 1st Act.  The show opened on August 27, 1934 and ran 237 performances, closing on March 16, 1935, a moderately successful run and typical of these Broadway variety shows at the time.


Arlen himself recorded the song in 1934 with Leo Reisman and his Orchestra on the Brunswick label.


Obviously a significant song for the couple, for Arlen to write the opening notes to his wife all those years later in 1963 not long after she was released from psychiatric care. We have been involved appraising a large portion of the Arlen Family Archive for two years at this point, this item was purchased by us at public auction.  We do know from reviewing the archive, that Harold occasionally wrote in the endpapers of books he gave Anya, however, we have not seen a musical quotation in any other book in the archive.  While he was accustomed to writing musical “jots” as he called them on blank clipped slips of musical staff paper he maintained for himself as ideas came to him, they were not signed, nor handed out as souvenirs. While he was accustomed to autographing photographs and certainly correspondence, he rarely ever wrote musical quotations for anyone and if he did, for close friends; so this piece is highly unusual.  Based on our copious knowledge of the archive and the estate, several crates of books of poetry were sold to the Argosy Bookstore by Harold with the assistance of his brother and wife when the last of the composer’s papers and other property was returned after Anya’s death in 1970.  This book which he likely would have retained was not pulled by the California packers as others which were sentimental were.  The composer was never the same after the death of Anya and despite the occasional television appearance, award show appearances and a few recording engagements and a few projects which were never completed, his amazingly prolific creative life was essentially over. Within a few years,  he contracted Parkinson’s disease and he was rarely seen in public from then.


A touching and sentimental autograph by the legendary American Songbook Composer and a very visual piece for display with the original photograph of the pair at the start of their life together as a married couple.