Lorenz Hart and his “Funny World”:
Lorenz Hart has proved by his outstanding work to be one of the best lyricists that the world has ever seen. His life is not just a life of a creative person; it is a life that may be called a “mystery”. So many people have tried to reveal the secret of Hart’s lyrics but it is obvious that the peculiarity of his lyrics relate to the peculiarity of his inner world. Only a person with a rich storage of ideas, philosophical opinions and an ability to transmit it through creative activity can produce a creation with a very deep sense. Lorenz Hart managed to transmit all his emotions and we must even say his heart into the lyrics he produced. No wonder, even nowadays-young people respect and admire the heritage that Lorenz Hart has left to us all. To have a better understanding of Hart’s works it is very important to understand him as a person, to know what was his living situation and childhood like.
Lorenz Hart was born on May 2, 1895. It was the moment of entering the new XX century. As it is very well known beginning of this century caused a lot of changes in every single sphere of the life of people. Musical sphere needed changes, too. It needed something new and fresh, something “not like everybody else”. Hart was born in the USA, New York City and Manhattan was the place that Hart learned the world from. Another thing to mention is that Hart was a descendant of the known poet Heinrich Heine. Hart was not the only son of Frieda and Max Hart. Hart was raised in a family where he was the eldest son and therefore this required a high responsibility from his side. He got his education Columbia Grammar School and attended the Columbia School of Journalism. Journalism taught him to express his thoughts clearly and must have had a positive influence on Hart as a future talented lyricist. It is possible to say that his “initial” contribution to the music world started with his acquaintance with Richard Rogers through a friend. Afterwards these two names would be remembered only in couple. At the beginning they started writing for amateur musicals presented as “charity benefits and Columbia Varsity Shows”. Among the first presented works – “Fly with me” produced in 1920. Nevertheless there was another work before that that may be fully considered a “ great start”. It was the song “Any Old Place With You,” featured in the 1919 in the Broadway musical comedy “A lonely Romeo”. So as their alliance has been strong and productive from its very beginning. The first real success they faced was the Theatre Guild production “Garrick Gaieties” in 1925. Right afterwards this success Rogers and Hart began their magnificent works for Broadway and London’s West End and spent over 10 years writing for them. They work very hard; they impressed and surprised the audience, not letting themselves rest. During this period such works as: Dearest enemy, Betsy, Peggy-Ann, The girl friend, Chee-Chee and Connecticut Yankee were created and made a lot of “noise” in the music world. And it is obvious that after such a success in Broadway their only way was Hollywood. Hart still worked hard and together with Rogers they started creating movie musicals. Their movie works included: “Love me tonight” with Maurice Chevalier; “The phantom president” with George M. Cohan; “Hallelujah, I’m a bum” with Al Jolson and many more. Hart was extremely well-paid by that time and when later on him and Rogers were invited back to Broadway Hart’s salary was the first salary of a lyricist to be equal to a composer salary. Roger and Hart’s joint work has produced numerous of outstanding and really talented songs and musical. Their work continued until 1943, when Hart died of pneumonia. Nevertheless his death did not stop the popularity and recognition of his work, his lyrics are immortal and still admired by million of people all over the world.
We may have put a full stop here, but the Hart’s story would not be full. All these were just the consequences of hard work and to understand Lorenz Hart it is vital to know what was his “real” life like. And if somebody would make any conclusions based on the successful debuts he would be mistaken. Hart’s life was not easy at all. Lorenz Hart was a homosexual and it was very hard for him to differ from everybody else like that. His self-esteem therefore was not adequate. He constantly felt inferiority and tried hard to feel normal. It is not necessary to be a psychologists to determine that it was his attempt to struggle his own homosexuality that lead him to alcoholism. Hart alcoholism advanced and it was the reason that his organism was so weak and could get pneumonia. Hart did also physically “differ” from other people. He felt terrible for being extremely short and having a head larger than in was supposed to be in relation to his body. All these factors caused the very deep psychological discomfort for Lorenz Hart and made him want to escape from it through the usage of different substances. His unhappiness resulted in the magnificent love songs, that revealed a deep desire to love and to be loved, to be what you are and to be accepted being whoever you are. The controversy of his lyrics is reflected in their being very simple, but carrying such a deep meaning that touches every single person who listens to it to the very core. Through his work Hart should that he was a really talented, because only a truly talented person can still create awesome works being so emotionally devastated and feeling inferiority. Hart’s life was a constant struggle of his real “essence” and what was considered to be acceptable in that time. The social frames back then were very strict and to get out of them was dangerous. And it is too sad, that the world lost such a talented man just for not letting him be what he was through its “restrictions”. The song that truly reflects his inner world and his view over his life is the song “This funny life”.
This song had very important message from Hart. All his life he strived for what he really needed – to be himself, but he could not do it, because the world around did not consider it to be appropriate. He had to hide what he wanted and hide all his failures because the world around him would never accept his being like that or feel sympathy for him. The world around made fun of his and made his suffer and try to escape from the inner conflict at the bottom of the bottle. He was more than a talented man. He was a man that was not understood and a man that just wanted to feel loved. And no matter how hard people tried no movie could reveal the truth about the great talented lyricist by the name Lorenz Hart.