Eric Maschwitz

(1901—1969) writer and broadcaster

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b. 10 June 1901, Birmingham, England, d. 27 October 1969, Ascot, Berkshire, England. A librettist, lyricist, author and producer. After studying at Cambridge University, Maschwitz joined the BBC in the late 20s, and was editor of Radio Times from 1927-33. For the next four years he served as BBC Radio’s first Director of Variety. While with the Corporation he often used the pseudonym, Holt Marvell, for his songwriting activities. In 1932, his radio play Goodnight, Vienna, written with composer George Posford, was turned into a musical film, and gave its star, Jack Buchanan, one of his biggest record hits. In the following year, again with Posford, Maschwitz wrote The Gay Hussar, which was staged in the West End. Revised, and with a new title, Balalaika, and an additional composer, Bernard Grun, it ran for 570 performances from 1936-38. It became the first British Musical to be filmed in Hollywood, and starred Nelson Eddy singing the hit song, ‘At The Balalaika’. In 1936, together with Jack Strachey and Harry Link, Maschwitz wrote the all-time standard, ‘These Foolish Things’, which was interpolated into the show Spread It Abroad. In the same year he received the OBE, and three years later was nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing the screenplay for the MGM classic Goodbye, Mr Chips. During World War II, Maschwitz served in the Intelligence Corps, but still found the time to write songs, including some of the era’s most potent numbers, such as ‘A Pair Of Silver Wings’ (with Michael Carr), ‘Room 504’ (Posford), and ‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square’ (with Strachey and Manning Sherwin). The latter song turned up in the revue, Strange Faces (1940). Maschwitz’s other stage shows included Paprika, Magyar Melody (Paprika revised), Waltz Without End, Flying Colours, Evangeline, Starlight Roof, Carissima and Belinda Fair (1949). In the 50s Maschwitz wrote the songs, with Posford, for George Formby’s first, and last, West End Musical, Zip Goes A Million (1951-53), and contributed librettos to Love From Judy (1952-54), and Romance In Candlelight (1955). His last London production, in 1956, was Summer Song, with music by Grun and Dvorak. In 1958 Maschwitz returned to the BBC as Head of Light Entertainment in television, and was partly responsible for the long-running Black And White Minstrel Show. See also George Posford, Jack Buchanan, Balalaika, Jack Strachey, Michael Carr, Manning Sherwin, Waltz Without End, George Formby, Love From Judy, Summer Song.

From Encyclopedia of Popular Music in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Music.