Most often a composer creates a melody and gives it to a favorite lyricist to add words. Composers may use a variety of wordsmiths and lyricists may work with various melody-makers. But then sometimes a composer and lyricist form a team. They may have been assigned to work together by their studio employer or they may have met and made that decision. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart met as students at Columbia University and, although they had vastly different personalities, wrote musicals together for 25 years. After Hart died, Rodgers joined forces with Oscar Hammerstein II in a very successful collaboration. A team may work together for a while, like Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, and then go their separate ways, On the other hand, there are the Bergmans. Alan Bergman and Marilyn Keith were both working as lyricists for composer Lew Spence, who suggested they work together. They married in 1958 and have been writing lyrics together ever since.

(George YEARS and IRA YEARS) songs epitomize the Jazz Age. George’s music blended elements from ragtime, jazz, and classical music, and combined with Ira’s genius for witty, ingenious, and sophisticated lyrics formed the perfect musical symbiosis.

Composer Richard Rodgers (1902–1979) and the lyricist Lorenz Hart (1895–1943) worked together on 28 stage musicals and more than 500 songs from 1919 until Hart's death in 1943. “Blue Moon” and “My Funny Valentine” are only two of their many jazz standards.


Composer Arthur Schwartz (1900-1984) and lyricist Howard Dietz (1896-1983) wrote 11 Broadway shows (and their movie adaptations) together. Both of them had other major careers separate from songwriting, yet together they helped shape the spirit and flavor of Broadway musicals –and the films based on them – throughout the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s.


JULE STYNE (music) and SAMMY CAHN (1913–1993), (lyrics) wrote a few Broadway musicals, as well as Oscar-winning movie songs together, before going their separate ways.

ALAN BERGMAN (1925) and MARILYN BERGMAN (1929) have written the lyrics for numerous celebrated television shows, films, and stage musicals, winning two Academy Awards and a Grammy for Song of the Year. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame YEAR and won the Johnny Mercer prize. Their most well-known song is “The Way We Were.

“Larry Hart was the first of the so-called sophisticated lyric writers.”

The clever, sophisticated lyrics of Lorenz Hart (b. Harlem, New York, 2 May 1895; d. New York, 22 November 1943), who partnered with composer Richard Rodgers for almost 25 years, can still bring smiles to the lips, decades after they were first popular. Hart had a remarkable talent for unexpected rhymes but even more impressive was his ability to build intricate verse structures that on the surface seem simple and familiar. This is only one of the many Rodgers and Hart standards from The Great American Songbook.

My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Yet you're my favorite work of art

Is your figure less than greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

But don't change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is valentines day.