Arthur Schwartz, the composer of such enduring standards as “You and the Night and the Music”, “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan”, “That’s Entertainment” and “What a Wonderful World”, was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 25, 1900.
As a child, he taught himself the harmonica and piano and by the age of 14, was accompanying silent films at the Brooklyn Cortelyou Theater. His father, an attorney, urged him to study law, and after receiving a BA from New York University, a Masters from Columbia Universities, he was admitted to the Bar in 1924. While studying law, he supported himself by teaching English in the New York school system, all the while writing popular songs and in 1923 "Baltimore, MD, You're the Only Doctor for Me", was Schwartz’ first published song.
Acquaintances like Lorenz Hart and George Gershwin encouraged him to continue composing and in 1928, he met Howard Dietz, the lyricist with whom he produced his most successful material. Schwartz was introduced to Dietz’ lyrics while attending the Broadway show Merry Go Round and so taken with the lyricists wit and verse, Schwartz begged Dietz to write to his melody.
After quitting the law profession for good in 1928, Schwartz devoted himself entirely to songwriting. The first Schwartz and Dietz score debuted in 1929 on Broadway, entitled The Little Show, which included "I've Made a Habit of You" and "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan." Other Broadway productions that Schwartz contributed to included The Second Little Show, Princess Charming, Three’s a Crowd, The Band Wagon, Flying Colors, Revenge With Music, At Home Abroad, Virginia, Between the Devil, Stars in Your Eyes, Park Avenue, Inside USA, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, By the Beautiful Sea, The Gay Life and Jennie.
Schwartz’ songs were also included in several successful Hollywood films including That Girl From Paris, Under Your Spell, Navy Blues, Thank Your Lucky Stars, The Time, the Place and the Girl, Excuse My Dust, Dangerous When Wet, and You’re Never Too Young.
Schwartz received two Academy Award nominations for Best Song: the first in 1944 for the song “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old” in the film Thank Your Lucky Stars; the second in 1948 for the song “A Gal in Calico” from the film The Time, the Place and the Girl. Perhaps Schwartz’ biggest hit, “That’s Entertainment” from the film The Band Wagon was awarded the ASCAP Award for Most Performed Feature Film Standard in 1990.
Collaborating with the best lyricists of his day including Dietz, Dorothy Fields, Frank Loesser, Johnny Mercer, Oscar Hammerstein II, Edward Heyman, Ira Gershwin, Leo Robin and Al Stillman, the Arthur Schwartz catalog includes “Dancing in the Dark”, “Lucky Seven”, “An Old Flame Never Dies”, “Waiting for the Evening Train”, “If There is Someone Lovelier than You”, “Paree”, “Get Yourself a Geisha”, “It’s All Yours”, “A Lady Needs a Change”, “Something to Remember You By”, “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” and “High and Low.”
Arthur Schwartz died in 1984, in Kintnersville, Pennsylvania.