In 1984, the Smithsonian Institution compiled a boxed set of CDs called The American Popular Song. The set included favorites from Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers and George Gershwin -- but contained more songs by Harold Arlen than any other composer.
The son of a celebrated cantor from New York, Arlen was one of America's greatest songwriters. During a career that spanned from the jazz age of the 1920s well into the 1970s, he wrote music for numerous Cotton Club revues, Broadway musicals and Hollywood movies, including The Wizard of Oz and A Star Is Born. Arlen's catalogue of more than 400 songs includes such classics as "Over the Rainbow," "Stormy Weather," "Between the Devil And the Deep Blue Sea" and "Get Happy."
"He wasn't as well known as some of us," said Irving Berlin of Arlen after his death in 1986, "but he was a better songwriter than most of us." To mark the centennial of Arlen's birth, Feb. 15, NPR Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg hosts an hour-long special surveying his life and music.
Produced by Jeff Lunden.
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