The following is a guest post from Music Archivist Chris Hartten.
Broadway pianist, composer, and arranger Luther Henderson spent much of his career infusing the stage with his love for the storied roots of American jazz. Born in Kansas City on March 14, 1919, Henderson graduated from the Juilliard School of Music in 1942 before joining the Navy as a staff orchestrator two years later.
He burst onto the Broadway music scene with dance arrangements for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song in 1958, followed by orchestrations for Do Re Mi in 1960. Henderson received widespread acclaim for his arrangements in the 1978 Tony Award winning Ain’t Misbehavin’, a revue featuring the music of Fats Waller. His excellent work on Jelly’s Last Jam (1992) and Play On! (1997) cemented Henderson as one of the premier Broadway arrangers of the late 20th century. In addition to his stage collaborations, Henderson also provided arrangements for many leading performing groups and individuals, including the Canadian Brass, Placido Domingo, Mandy Patinkin, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He continued to promote the music of jazz legends with the concert series/recording Classic Ellington (1999-2000) and remained active with similar projects until his death in 2004.
The Music Division is home to the Luther Henderson Papers, a collection of music manuscripts, correspondence, subject files, photographs, business papers, and other materials related to Henderson’s career.