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John Kander

John Kander
Birth name John Harold Kander
Born (1927-03-18) March 18, 1927 (age 88)
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Genres Musical theatre, film, television
Occupation(s) Composer
Instruments Piano
Years active 1957–present
Associated acts Kander and Ebb

John Harold Kander (born March 18, 1927) is the American composer of a number of musicals as part of the songwriting team of Kander and Ebb.

Life and career

Kander was born in Kansas City, Missouri,[1] and attended the Pembroke Country-Day School and Oberlin College before earning a Master's degree at Columbia University where he was a protégé of Douglas Moore and studied composition with Jack Beeson and Otto Luening.[2] His studies were interrupted at Oberlin when he served in the Cadet corps of the United States Merchant Marines.

Kander began his Broadway career as substitute rehearsal pianist for West Side Story. The stage manager for West Side Story then asked Kander to play the auditions for her next show, Gypsy. During the auditions, Kander met the choreographer, Jerome Robbins, who suggested that Kander compose the dance music for the show in 1959. After that experience, he wrote dance arrangements for Irma la Douce in 1960.

His first produced musical was A Family Affair, written with James and William Goldman. He met lyricist Fred Ebb in 1962 and began a songwriting collaboration that would last for more than four decades. Later that year rising star Barbra Streisand recorded two of the duo's songs, "My Coloring Book" and "I Don't Care Much." In 1965, Kander and Ebb landed their first show on Broadway, Flora the Red Menace, produced by Hal Prince, directed by George Abbott, and with book by George Abbott and Robert Russell, in which Liza Minnelli made her initial Broadway appearance. Kander and Ebb have since been associated with writing material for both Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera, and have produced special material for their appearances live and on television.

The musicals Cabaret and Chicago have been made into films; the film version of Chicago won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Picture.

Kander, along with Ebb, also wrote songs for Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, and it was set to premiere in London, but the rights were pulled by Wilder's nephew. He also says that Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, the writers of The Fantasticks, wrote a musical of Wilder's Our Town and it took them thirteen years to write, only to have the rights pulled as well by the nephew.[3]

His first musical without Fred Ebb in many years, The Landing, with book and lyrics by Greg Pierce, premiered at the Vineyard Theatre, kicking off their 2013–2014 season[4]

Kander's newest musical, Kid Victory, also with Greg Pierce, had its world premiere February 28, 2015 at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.[5]

Personal life

Kander's nephew, Jason Kander, is Missouri Secretary of State.

John Kander work

Lyrics by Fred Ebb unless otherwise noted

Stage musicals

The duo also contributed songs for the following movies:

Film scores


The team also received numerous nominations, which include five more Tony Awards, two Academy Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards.

Kander, like Ebb, is also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 1991.[6]

In 1998, Kander and Ebb received the Kennedy Center Honors award for Lifetime Achievement.[7]


  1. ^ "John Kander Biography (1927-)". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  2. ^ NewMusicBox: "Passing Through Curtains" (May 1, 2010). John Kander in conversation with Frank J. Oteri on April 7, 2010.
  3. ^ Cerasaro, Pat."InDepth InterView: John Kander", November 2, 2010
  4. ^ "John Kander, Greg Pierce and Nicky Silver announced for 2013-14 Season". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  5. ^ Clement, Olivia (28 Feb 2015). "New John Kander Musical Kid Victory Opens Tonight at the Signature". Playbill. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  6. ^ "Notes for John Kander". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  7. ^ "List of Kennedy Center Honorees". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 

External links

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