Here I am shaking hands with the legendary jazz pianist and arranger, Mary Lou Williams. To the left is the great jazz pianist George Wallington. They were judges for a jazz piano contest sponsored by a New York radio station when I was 16. I took first prize – which was lessons with Mary Lou – playing my arrangement of “My Funny Valentine,” which combined elements of jazz and counterpoint. I wish I could remember it now. While working with Mary Lou I was also studying classical piano with Leonid Hambro, staff pianist for the New York Philharmonic.
When Gwyneth Paltrow appeared on Inside The Actors Studio, she said:”Actually, what really inspired me was ‘Free to Be You and Me.’ ” There was a surprising burst of applause from the audience. “I used to lie on the bedroom floor and sing all the songs and act all the parts and imagine what all the characters looked like. I loved that.”
I scored ten episodes of “The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss”, a coproduction of The Jim Henson Company and Nickelodeon
In 1991 HBO hired me to compose songs and score for a half-hour animated film of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.” I asked the legendary Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick to write the lyrics and he agreed. In 1996 he included our song “That Kind of A Day” in a songbook of some of his favorite songs.
The Dick Cavett Show (CBS, 1975) was a great experience for me and it left me with some wonderful memories. I had an orchestra in the videotape studio and had composed a new opening theme, which Dick was very happy with. During the rehearsal for the first show, while I was working with some cast members, Dick walked over and said “I’m going to visit Baryshnikov; do you want to come along?” My first thought was “who wouldn’t?” But I was on a very tight schedule and had to keep working so I thanked him and said I would love to but I’ve got too much to do.
About 45 minutes before videotaping the first show my long-time collaborators, Bruce and Carole Hart, who were producing this show, said “Stephen, we’d like you to warm up the audience; just be yourself and give them some chat.” Of course they knew I had never done this but fortunately I thought of a few amusing things to say.
I was the Music Director at Temple Sinai in Stamford, CT from June, 2003 to June, 2012. During this period I continued composing for Sesame Street and other shows. My wife, Cantor Cathy Schwartzman Lawrence (cantorcathylawrence.com) was the cantor during most of those years. We were married in 2002 when Cathy was the cantor at a temple in New York City. I went to the temple with her and quickly learned the music for the Reform service.
This letter was written by an agent in the Beverly Hills office of William Morris to my New York agent, Scott Shukat.
We recorded the music for Jennifer On My Mind (1971), my first real film, in London. Noel Black, the director, sent this telegram to my agent at William Morris, Scott Shukat, around May, 1971.