Charles Strouse (born June 7, 1928) is a three-time Tony Award-winning American composer and lyricist.
Strouse was born and raised in New York City, the son of Ira and Ethel (Newman) Strouse. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Strouse studied under David Diamond, Aaron Copland and Nadia Boulanger.
Strouse's first Broadway musical was the 1960 hit Bye Bye Birdie, with lyrics by Lee Adams, who would become his long time collaborator. Strouse won his first Tony Award for best score for this musical, which is considered the precursor of the rock musical. Strouse's next show, All American, with a book by Mel Brooks and lyrics by Adams, came in 1962 and produced the standard “Once Upon a Time” (recorded by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Bobby Darin, among others). Following this was Golden Boy (1964, also with Adams), starring Sammy Davis Jr. and It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman (1966, based on the popular comic strip)which introduced the song "You've Got Possibilities" sung by Linda Lavin.
In 1970, Applause (starring Lauren Bacall, with book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and lyrics by Adams) won Strouse his second Tony Award. In 1977, Mr. Strouse adapted another comic strip for the stage, creating the hit Annie, which garnered him his third Tony Award and two Grammy Awards. Other Strouse musicals include Charlie and Algernon (1979), Dance a Little Closer (1983, with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner), Rags (1986) and Nick & Nora (1993). Strouse also wrote a number of musical revues, many with Adams.
Strouse’s film scores include the classics Bonnie and Clyde (1967), There Was a Crooked Man... (1970, with Henry Fonda and Kirk Douglas), The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968, with Adams) and the popular animated movie All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989). He and Adams also wrote the theme song “Those Were the Days” for the television show All in the Family. Strouse’s songs have been heard on the radio throughout his career and have run the gamut from girl-band pop to hip hop. In 1958, his song “Born Too Late” was number one on the Billboard charts, and in 1999 the quadruple platinum “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” by artist Jay-Z was the winner of a Grammy for Best Rap Album of the year & the Billboard R&B Album of the Year.
Strouse’s writing also extends into orchestral works, chamber music, piano concertos and opera. His Concerto America, composed in 2002 to commemorate 9/11 and the spirit of New York City, premiered at The Boston Pops in 2004, and his opera Nightingale (1982), starring Sarah Brightman, had a successful run in London, followed by many subsequent productions. In 1977, Strouse founded the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop in New York, through which many young composers and lyricists have found a forum for their work.
Upcoming works by Strouse include an adaptation of the Paddy Chayevsky film Marty starring John C. Reilly, a musical version of The Night They Raided Minsky's, and an adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy. Real Men, for which Mr. Strouse wrote the music and lyrics, premiered in January 2005 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, FL , and his musical Studio, premiered at Theatre Building Chicago in August 2006.
Strouse has won Emmy Awards for music in television adaptions of Bye Bye Birdie and Annie. He is also the recipient of the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein Awards. He is also a member of the Theater Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Strouse is married to director-choreographer Barbara Siman. They have 4 children: Benjamin, Nicholas, Victoria, and William.
* Bye Bye Birdie (1960)
* All American (1962)
* Golden Boy (1964)
* It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman (1966)
* Applause (1970)
* I and Albert (1972, London)
* Annie (1977)
* A Broadway Musical (1978)
* Charlie and Algernon (1979, London, as Flowers for Algernon); (1981)
* Bring Back Birdie (1981)
* Nightingale (1982; this work is often described as an opera)
* Dance a Little Closer (1983)
* Mayor (1985)
* Rags (1986)
* Nick & Nora (1993)
* Annie Warbucks (1993)
* Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
* The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968)
* There Was a Crooked Man (1970)
* Just Tell Me What You Want (1980)
* Ishtar (1987)
* All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)