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styne-musicJule Styne (Julius Stein), whose songwriting collaborations with Sammy Kahn (as well as Stephen Sondheim, Bob Merrill, and Betty Comden and Adolph Green, among others) yielded the scores for such hit Broadway shows as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bells Are Ringing, Gypsy, and Funny Girl, was born in London on this date in 1905. Styne was a prodigy pianist who performed with the Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit Symphony Orchestras before he was 10. In the course of his career, he published over 1,500 songs, including “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let it Snow!,” “Make Someone Happy,” “The Party’s Over,” “People,” “Three Coins in the Fountain” (an Academy Award-winner), “Time After Time,” and many other hugely successful numbers. “His songs often bore the stamp of the singers who introduced them,” wrote Eleanor Blau in the New York Times when Styne died at age 88. These included “Carol Channing, Judy Holliday, Doris Day, Mary Martin, Barbra Streisand and Ethel Merman. ‘Without the rendition there is no song,’ said Mr. Styne, who also said he considered the words more important than the music. Yet he told an interviewer that he preferred to write the music before the lyrics, as he had done in ‘Gypsy,’ his collaboration with Mr. Sondheim. ‘When the music is written first,’ he said, ‘the lyricist will do his best job because he is not writing to his own preconceived rhythmic notions.’” Styne also wrote scores for dance, television, and film. To see him performing and chatting with Michael Feinstein, look below.

“Styne has been credited with discovering Streisand and persuading the producers of ‘Funny Girl’ to cast her as Fanny Brice. He had caught her act in Greenwich Village, he said, and ‘I decided I wanted her, but no one else did. They didn’t like the way she looked, but she made a sound I never heard before.'” —Burt A. Folkart, Los Angeles Times