Dorothy Fields (1905 – 1974) was a U.S. librettist and lyricist. She wrote over 400 songs for Broadway musicals and films. She had great talent to match colloquial everyday speech to complex scores. She was one of the first successful Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley female composers or librettists (along with Ann Ronell, Dana Suesse, and Kay Swift). She was born in Allenhurst, New Jersey and grew up in New York City. Her father, Lew Fields, an immigrant from Poland, was a well-known vaudeville comedian and later became a Broadway producer. Her career as a professional songwriter took off in 1928, when Jimmy McHugh, who had seen some of her early work, invited her to provide some lyrics for him. Fields and McHugh teamed up until 1935. Songs from this period include “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby”, and “On the Sunny Side of the Street”. The song “The Way You Look Tonight” earned the Fields/Kern team the Academy Award for “Best Song” in 1936.
Fields returned to New York and worked again on Broadway shows, but now as a librettist, first with Arthur Schwartz on Stars In Your Eyes. In the 1940s, she teamed up with her brother, Herbert Fields, with whom she wrote the lyrics for three Cole Porter shows: Let’s Face It, Something For the Boys, and Mexican Hayride. Together, they wrote the lyrics for Annie Get Your Gun, a musical inspired by the life of Annie Oakley. They had intended for Jerome Kern to write the music, but when he died, Irving Berlin was brought in. The show, which included the songs “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “They Say It’s Wonderful”, was a success and ran for 1,147 performances.
In the 1950s, her biggest success was the show Redhead (1959), which won five Tony Awards, including one for “Best Musical”. When she started collaborating with Cy Coleman in the 1960s, her career took a new turn. She easily adapted to the new style of music; their first work together was Sweet Charity.
“The Way You Look Tonight”, this timeless love song created by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields at the peak of their musical careers, brings out the very best in our choir and Anne’s arrangement gives each voice section a chance to shine. The first tenors, who usually get the tune, here are given more interesting harmonies to test them, whilst our second class citizens, the second tenors even get the tune on occasion! Basses and baritones get the oportunity to shine throughout and in the final bars all section get the chance to bask in the wonderful climax to the piece.
Definitely my favourite – Doug Shuttleworth.