John Kander is the composer of a number of popular songs and musicals. In the latter genre Kander teamed up with lyricist Fred Ebb to produce several hits, among them Cabaret (1966), which won the Tony Award for best musical; Chicago (1975), which in its film version won the Academy Award for best picture in 2003; Woman of the Year (1981); and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992). In addition, the two contributed songs to a number of other popular musicals, including Funny Lady (1975) and New York, New York (1977). Among their biggest hits were "Money, Money," and "Maybe this Time," from Cabaret; and from New York, New York the title song of the same name. But Kander also had many successes apart from his Ebb collaborations, providing film scores for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Places in the Heart (1984), Billy Bathgate (1991), and for numerous television movies and other musical projects. Recordings of his songs are widely available and his musicals are often performed in revival productions.
John Kander was born on March 18, 1927, in Kansas City, MO. He was a childhood friend of lyricist James Goldman and while students at Oberlin College, the pair produced their first successful songs. Kander had advanced music studies with Otto Luening and Douglas Moore at Columbia University.
Kander broke into Broadway in 1956 as a rehearsal pianist for The Amazing Adele and later for West Side Story. He next arranged dances for Gypsy (1959) and Irma La Douce (1960). Kander then teamed up with Goldman and his brother William for the musical A Family Affair (1962).
That same year he collaborated with Fred Ebb on the songs "My Coloring Book" and "I Don't Care Much," two hits recorded by Barbra Streisand. Their first musical, Flora the Red Menace, starring Liza Minnelli, was only a modest success. But over the next decade the team would turn out nine more musicals, mostly highly successful efforts that included Cabaret, Zorba (1968), Chicago, and New York, New York.
In the latter half of his career, Kander began to turn his focus on film scores. After Kramer vs. Kramer came a string of distinguished efforts, including Still of the Night (1982), Blue Skies Again (1983), Places in the Heart, and a number of television projects, including Liza Minnelli, Live From Radio City Music Hall (1992) and the CBS movie The Boys Next Door (1996).