Hugh Martin


Composer

About

Birth Place
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Born
August 11, 1914

Biography

After making his Broadway acting debut in the short-lived musical "Hooray for What!" (1937), for which he also created the vocal arrangements, Hugh Martin went to work for Richard Rodgers on "The Boys from Syracuse" (1938), arranging the show-stopping "Sing for Your Supper." In 1941, he and writing partner Ralph Blane had a hit with "Best Foot Forward" starring Nancy Walker. The pair was...

Notes

Martin wrote to Richard Rodgers who would hire him to work on "The Boys from Syracuse": "Dear Mr Rodgers, I love your music and I think you're wonderful. But one thing puzzles me. I don't understand why I never hear any vocal arrangements in Broadway shows. They sing a verse and two choruses, and that's it. When I go to the movies, I hear exciting choral arrangements and inventive duets. But not on Broadway. And I wondered why that is." --From INTHEATER, March 27, 1998

Biography

After making his Broadway acting debut in the short-lived musical "Hooray for What!" (1937), for which he also created the vocal arrangements, Hugh Martin went to work for Richard Rodgers on "The Boys from Syracuse" (1938), arranging the show-stopping "Sing for Your Supper." In 1941, he and writing partner Ralph Blane had a hit with "Best Foot Forward" starring Nancy Walker. The pair was invited to join MGM's illustrious music unit under Arthur Freed where they oversaw the 1943 film version of their Broadway success. Martin subsequently received Best Song Oscar nominations (with Blane) for "The Trolley Song" from "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944) and "Pass the Peace Pipe" from "Good News" (1947, also with Roger Edens). Judy Garland's pianist for her NYC Palace appearances in 1951, he walked off the set of "A Star Is Born" (1954) when he clashed with the singer over her interpretation of the song "The Man That Got Away."

Preferring the collaboration of the theater over that of the movies, Martin was instrumental in the creation of shows like "Look Ma, I'm Dancin'" (1948) and "High Spirits" (1964), working with such theater luminaries as Jerome Robbins, George Abbott and Gower Champion. He reteamed with Blane to write 10 new songs for the 1989 Broadway production of "Meet Me in St. Louis," earning a Tony nomination, and is still busy in his 80s, having written new songs (with Timothy Gray) for "I Will Come Back," a 1998 off-Broadway tribute to Garland, as well as the music and lyrics for "Maggie & Jiggs," a new show workshopped in San Diego that same year.

Although the biggest hit from the "Meet Me in St. Louis" score was "The Trolley Song," Martin's favorite, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," has demonstrated much more staying power and is the composer's most recognizable tune. In the 80s and 90s, it graced "When Harry Met Sally ..." (1989), "While You Were Sleeping" (1995) and "Donnie Brasco" (1997), to name just a few of its movie appearances, proving it has become a modern Christmas classic, right up there with Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" and Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" ("Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"), among others.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Black Island (1978)
Deliveryman
Marching On! (1943)
Rodney Tucker, Jr.

Music (Feature Film)

Green Book (2018)
Song
How to Be Single (2016)
Song
Love the Coopers (2015)
Song
Krampus (2015)
Song
Jurassic World (2015)
Song
The Monuments Men (2014)
Song
The Best Man Holiday (2013)
Song
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Song
A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas (2011)
Song
Obsessed (2009)
Song
Sex and the City (2008)
Song
This Christmas (2007)
Song
The Notorious Bettie Page (2006)
Song
Deck The Halls (2006)
Music Composer
The Family Stone (2005)
Song
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)
Song
Imaginary Heroes (2004)
Song Performer ("Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas")
Surviving Christmas (2004)
Song
Bad Santa (2003)
Song
High Crimes (2002)
Song
The Next Best Thing (2000)
Song
Hanging Up (2000)
Song
A Civil Action (1998)
Song
Donnie Brasco (1997)
Song
The Associate (1996)
Song
Gravesend (1995)
Song
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Song ("Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas")
The Long Day Closes (1992)
Music Composer
All I Want for Christmas (1991)
Song
When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
Song
Heat (1987)
Song
The Victors (1963)
Composer
Athena (1954)
Composer
Fearless Fagan (1952)
Composer
Macao (1952)
Vocal Arrangements
The West Point Story (1950)
Vocal Arrangements
Cynthia (1947)
Composer
Good News (1947)
Composer
Ziegfeld Follies (1946)
Composer
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Hollywood (1945)
Composer
Broadway Rhythm (1944)
Composer
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Composer
Thousands Cheer (1944)
Composer
Broadway Rhythm (1944)
Vocal Arrangements
Best Foot Forward (1943)
Composer
Girl Crazy (1943)
Vocal Arrangements
Too Many Girls (1940)
Vocal Director

Director (Special)

It Came From Beneath the Bed or Nightmare on Magellan Street (1991)
Director
Don't Touch That Box! (1991)
Director
Christmas at Eureeka's Castle (1990)
Director
Nickelodeon's TV Dinner Party (1990)
Director

Writer (Special)

The Magic School Bus Family Holiday Special (1996)
Writer

Special Thanks (Special)

The Magic School Bus Family Holiday Special (1996)
Writer

Cast (Short)

Skip To My Lou (1941)

Writer (TV Mini-Series)

Dogboys (1998)
From Story
Dogboys (1998)
Story By

Producer (TV Mini-Series)

Dogboys (1998)
Executive Producer

Life Events

1937

Made Broadway debut in "Hooray for What!"; also worked on vocal arrangements

1938

Hired by Richard Rodgers to create vocal arrangements for "The Boys From Syracuse"

1941

With Ralph Blane, wrote score for the Broadway show "Best Foot Forward"

1943

Film version of "Best Foot Forward" released

1944

With Blane, wrote several songs for "Meet Me in St Louis"; earned Oscar nomination for "The Trolly Song"; first association with Judy Garland; also penned perennial "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

1947

Received second Academy Award nomination for Best Song for "Pass the Peace Pipe" from "Good News"; written with Blane and Roger Edens

1948

Wrote score for "Look Ma, I'm Dancin'", conceived by Jerome Robbins and directed by George Abbott for Broadway

1951

Served as pianist for Judy Garland during her performances at the Palace Theater in NYC

1954

Walked off "A Star Is Born" because of a falling-out with Garland over the interpretation of "The Man That Got Away"; received no film credit

1960

Suffered a nervous breakdown

1963

Liza Minnelli made her stage debut in the off-Broadway revival of Martin and Blane's "Best Foot Forward"

1964

With Timothy Gray, co-wrote "High Spirits", a musical based on Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit"; production starred Beatrice Lillie and was directed by Gower Champion (who replaced Coward), received Tony Award nomination

1981

Traveled throughout the USA with a gospel camp

1989

With Blane, wrote ten new songs for the stage version of "Meet Me in St Louis"; received second Tony nomination

1997

Honored by current hometown of San Diego, CA with a "Hugh Martin Day"

1998

Composed new songs (with Timothy Gray) for "I Will Come Back", an off-Broadway tribute to Judy Garland starring drag artiste Tommy Femia

1998

Wrote music and lyrics for San Diego workshop production of "Maggie & Jiggs", based on the George McManus comic strip, "Bringing Up Father"

Videos

Movie Clip

Ziegfeld Follies (1946) - Love (Lena Horne) A relatively modest production number, in MGM’s three million dollar musical, based on the premise of deceased impresario Florenz Ziegfeld imagining the show he could stage with MGM talent, Lena Horne with an original tune by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, in Ziegfeld Follies, 1946.
Girl Most Likely, The (1958) - Gotta Keep Up With The Joneses Maybe not a surprise, this vigorous fantasy number to a Hugh Martin/Ralph Blaine original is choreographed by Gower Champion, Jane Powell the title character, Tommy Noonan (dubbed by Robert Oates) one of her three suitors, in Jane’s first film away from MGM, The Girl Most Likely, 1958.
Ziegfeld Follies (1946) - Love (Lena Horne) A relatively modest production number, in MGM’s three million dollar musical, based on the premise of deceased impresario Florenz Ziegfeld imagining the show he could stage with MGM talent, Lena Horne with an original tune by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, in Ziegfeld Follies, 1946.
Athena (1954) - Harmonize Perturbed lawyer Adam (Edmund Purdom) at the home of mystically inclined fitness nuts, Louis Calhern as Grandpa, Jane Powell the title character, Debbie Reynolds and Vic Damone in chorus, and Steve Reeves the disdainful body-builder, another Martin & Blane song, in MGM’s Athena, 1954.
Girl Most Likely, The (1958) - I Don't Know What I Want Jane Powell, shot in 1956 but not released until 1958, due to finance issues at RKO, finally released by Universal, with an original by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine, as the title character, in the remake of the Ginger Rogers vehicle Tom, Dick And Harry, 1941, The Girl Most Likely, 1958.
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) - The Boy Next Door Esther (Judy Garland) performs "The Boy Next Door" by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane in Meet Me in St. Louis, 1944, directed by Vincente Minnelli.
Athena (1954) - Vocalize Nutty numerologist and amateur gardener Jane Powell (title character) has inserted herself into the household of lawyer Adam (Edmund Purdom), mulching to a Hugh Martin/Ralph Blane tune, meeting singer-client Johnny (Vic Damone) on the way out, in MGM’s Athena, 1954.
Athena (1954) - The Girl Next Door Swiftly to business in MGM’s light comic musical for contract stars, first Vic Damone as TV star Johnny Nye, bobby-soxers packing the studio, with a Hugh Martin/Ralph Blane song introduced ten years earlier by Judy Garland, in Athena, 1954, also starring Jane Powell.
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) - The Trolley Song Esther (Judy Garland) waits until John (Tom Drake) hops on board before she sings "The Trolley Song" by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane in Vincente Minnelli's Meet Me in St. Louis, 1944.
Fearless Fagan - What Do You Think I Am? Kellwin (Keenan Wynn) introduces and Company J (Carleton Carpenter as "Floyd," et al) show some restraint as starlet "Abby Ames" (Janet Leigh) performs What Do You Think I Am? by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, in Fearless Fagan, 1952.

Trailer

Bibliography

Notes

Martin wrote to Richard Rodgers who would hire him to work on "The Boys from Syracuse": "Dear Mr Rodgers, I love your music and I think you're wonderful. But one thing puzzles me. I don't understand why I never hear any vocal arrangements in Broadway shows. They sing a verse and two choruses, and that's it. When I go to the movies, I hear exciting choral arrangements and inventive duets. But not on Broadway. And I wondered why that is." --From INTHEATER, March 27, 1998