That’s Entertainment! The Arthur Schwartz Papers

Arthur Schwartz

The following is a guest post by Music Archivist Chris Hartten and Senior Music Specialist Mark Horowitz.

For you musical theater aficionados out there, the Music Division is thrilled to announce that our finding aid for the Arthur Schwartz Papers is now available online here.

Schwartz is best remembered as a composer for a series of sophisticated musical revues in the 1920s and 1930s, most famously The Band Wagon (1931). Its score boasted what was arguably to become Schwartz’s best-remembered standard, the haunting and romantic “Dancing in the Dark” (manuscripts of which are included in the collection). The songs for these revues were co-written with lyricist, Howard Dietz, but Schwartz’s later collaborators included Dorothy Fields, Sammy Cahn, and Ira Gershwin – another songwriter whose papers are in our collections.

Recognition of the sweep and variety of Schwartz’s music probably reached its peak when the film The Bandwagon, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, opened in 1953. Though the film adapted the title of the earlier show, it was plotted and featured songs from throughout Dietz and Schwartz’ various collaborations. In addition, they wrote a new song, the show biz anthem “That’s Entertainment,” which became the theme for a series of MGM films that celebrated the studio’s heyday producing musicals.

In addition to composing, Schwartz made significant forays into the business side of show business. He worked as a television and film producer for shows that most famously included Cover Girl (1944).  Beginning in 1958, Schwartz served as director of ASCAP, a position that he would hold for nearly twenty-five years until shortly before his death.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Schwartz composed scores for several Broadway musicals. Though none of them were hits, there was broad agreement that his musical talents had not diminished and, if anything, had become richer – particularly the scores for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1951) and The Gay Life (1961), which starred Barbara Cook. Though his last Broadway show was produced in 1963, Schwartz continued to work on new projects,  including unproduced musical versions of Casablanca and Nicholas Nickelby, many of which have materials represented in our collection. The Arthur Schwartz Papers includes music manuscripts, sheet music, scripts, correspondence, photographs, and other materials related to over fifty years of Schwartz’s dynamic musical collaborations.

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