Text Box: Lyricist autographs


Price: $850.00



Autographed note signed on the bottom of an octavo typed letter signed to the legendary lyricist from a collector requesting a musical quotation of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from the “Wizard of Oz”, March 7, 1978.  Harburg writes a note back to the collector at the base of the page as was his wont to do.  He states the proper name of the song in his response, “Over the Rainbow”.  We offer with a first day cover of the stamp honoring Harburg from 2005, suitable for framing!

Harburg writes:  Dear Lillian S -

Thanks for the loving words - why don’t you ask Harold Arlen for the notes of “Over the Rainbow”, they belong to him.

All the best,

E Y Harburg

Harburg (1896-1981) was one of the 1895-96 gang of legendary and highly successful Jewish Tin Pan Alley - Broadway lyricists which also included Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, Lorenz Hart, Howard Dietz, Harold Ruby and Irving Caesar.  Harburg did not start out to be a lyricist.  His best friend and high school classmate Ira Gershwin were Gilbeert and Sullivan enthusiasts and began to dabble in verse together in high school and later at CUNY.  When Harburg’s electic supply business went bankrupt in the Depression in 1929, he introduced him to composer Jay Gorney and they collaborated on “Earl Carrol’s Sketchbook” in 1929 with the pair as co-composers and Harburg wrote the lyrics.  In 1930, Harburg and Gershwin co-wrote the lyrics for “Garrick Gaeties” and then he went back to the annual Earl Carrol offering, “Earl Carrol Vanities” with Gorney just writing lyrics for the show.  A second composer was also engaged for that show, Harold Arlen, though he was using Ted Koehler at the time for his lyrics.  Later in the year, Arlen was asked to compose a new Broadway musical and invited Harburg to write the lyrics for the new show, “You Said It” which opened in 1931 and ran seven months.  They worked together for the 1932 variety show, “Americana” then in it’s third season.  In that show, the Harburg-Gormley Depression hit “Brother Can You Spare A Dime” debuted and soon was a huge hit on its’ own. The same year, Harburg collaborated with Vernon Duke on “April in Paris”.  Ira Gershwin, Harburg and Arlen collaborated on the Broadway show, “Life Begins at 8:40” in 1934 which ran for 237 performances.  In 1935 Yarburg was signed by Goldwyn Brothers to supply lyrics for various film musicals and began working more closely with Vernon Duke.  In 1937 Harburg and Arlen collaborated on the anti-war Broadway musical “Hooray for What” which included the song “Down With Love”, which became a hit on its’ own. 

It was in July 1938 that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contracted Arlen and Harburg to supply original songs for their upcoming film, “The Wizard of Oz”.  What they did not realize at the time, but this pairing of composer and lyricist was to become the single most important song writing collaboration for musical film of the 20th Century and the song “Over the Rainbow” performed by Judy Garland was awarded the “Greatest Song of the 20th Century” in 2001, in a list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America.  Harburg was also made, though un-credited the final script editor for the film and ended up re-working large portions of the dialogue including all the lead-up dialogue to all of the songs. In the end, Arlen and Harburg shared the Academy Award for best song, “Over the Rainbow” for the film year 1939.  The songs for the film included, “Over the Rainbow”, “Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are”, “It Really Was Not A Miracle”, “We Thank You Very Sweetly”, “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead”, “As The Mayor Of Munchkin City”, “As Coroner I Must Aver”, “The Lullaby League, “The Lollipop Guild”, “We Welcome You To Munchkinland”, “You’re Off To See The Wizard”, “If I Only Had A Brain”, “We’re Off To See The Wizard”, “If I Only Had A Heart”, “If I Only Had the Nerve”, “The Merry Old Land of Oz”, “If I Were King Of The Forest”, “The Jitterbug” (cut), “Over the Rainbow” (cut reprise), and “Hail Hail The Witch Is Dead”.  

We do encounter Harburg letters from time to time, all generally like this one, with a response written on the original.  Rarely do you encounter one which mentions his greatest hit!

Perfect for display with the FDC of the Harburg stamp!



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