Vincent Youmans

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Vincent Youmans
Birth name Vincent Millie Youmans
Born (1898-09-27)September 27, 1898
New York City, New York
Died April 5, 1946(1946-04-05) (aged 47)
Denver, Colorado
Occupation(s) composer, Broadway producer, orchestrator

Vincent Millie Youmans (September 27, 1898 – April 5, 1946) was an American popular theatre composer and Broadway producer.[1]


Youmans was born in New York City and grew-up on Central Park West on the site where the Mayflower Hotel once stood. His father, a prosperous hat manufacturer, moved the family to upper-class Larchmont, New York.[2] Youmans attended the Trinity School in Mamaroneck, New York, and Heathcote Hall in Rye, New York. Originally, his ambition was to become an engineer, and he attended Yale University for a short time. He dropped out to become a runner for a Wall Street brokerage firm before he was drafted to fight in World War I. He took an interest in the theatre when he produced troop shows for the Navy.

After the war, Youmans was a Tin Pan Alley song-plugger for the TB Harms Company and then a rehearsal pianist for composer Victor Herbert’s operettas.[3] He collaborated with lyricist Ira Gershwin on the score for Two Little Girls in Blue, which won wide acclaim. His next show, with lyrics by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II, was Wildflower. His most enduring success, however, was No, No, Nanette, with lyrics by Irving Caesar. This was the biggest musical-comedy success of the 1920s in both Europe and the USA and his two songs "Tea for Two" and "I Want to Be Happy" are considered standards.

From 1927, Youmans also produced his own shows. He had another major success with Hit the Deck! (1927; including "Hallelujah"), but his subsequent productions were failures, though many of their songs remain popular. His last contributions to Broadway were some songs for Take a Chance (1932).[4]

Youmans collaborated with the greatest songwriters on Broadway: Herbert Stothart, Otto Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein II, Irving Caesar, Anne Caldwell, Leo Robin, Clifford Grey, Billy Rose, Edward Eliscu, Edward Heyman, Harold Adamson, Mack Gordon, Buddy De Sylva and Gus Kahn.[3] Youmans' early songs are remarkable for their economy of melodic material: two-, three- or four-note phrases are constantly repeated and varied by subtle harmonic or rhythmic changes. In later years, however, apparently influenced by Jerome Kern, he turned to longer musical sentences and more free-flowing melodic lines.[4]

Youmans retired in 1934, after a professional career of only 13 years, only returning to Broadway to mount the ill-fated extravaganza The Vincent Youmans Ballet Revue (1943), an ambitious mix of Latin-American and classical music, including Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé. Choreographed by Leonide Massine, it lost some $4 million.[5] More than any of his contemporaries, he made constant re-use of a limited number of melodies; he published fewer than 100 songs, but 18 of these were considered standards by ASCAP.[4]

He died of tuberculosis at age 47. At his death, Youmans left behind a large quantity of unpublished material. In 1970, Youmans was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Thirteen years later, in 1983, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.[6]

Broadway musicals with music by Vincent Youmans[edit]

Movies with music by Vincent Youmans[edit]



  1. ^ Slonimsky, Nicolas (1978). "Youmans, Vincent". Baker's Biographical dictionary of musicians (6th ed.). New York: Schirmer Books. pp. 1927–1928. ISBN 0028702409. 
  2. ^ Suskin, Steven. "Vincent Youmans". Show Tunes: The Songs, Shows, and Careers of Broadway's Major Composers. Oxford University Press: 2000.
  3. ^ a b Vincent Youmans at the Songwriters' Hall of Fame, accessed January 12, 2013
  4. ^ a b c Bordman, Gerald. "Vincent Youmans", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy, accessed 12 July 2008
  5. ^ Vincent Youmans, in The Faber Companion to 20th Century Popular Music (2001). Retrieved April 13, 2008
  6. ^ "Theater Hall of Fame Gets 10 New Members". New York Times. May 10, 1983. 
  7. ^ a b "Vincent Youmans: Film scores", Songwriters' Hall of Fame, accessed January 12, 2013
  8. ^ Vincent Youmans at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ "de beste bron van informatie over nfo. Deze website is te koop!". Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  10. ^ The Broadway League. "The official source for Broadway Information". IBDB. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 

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