Composer, lyricist Hugh Martin Jr. dies

March 13, 2011 at 12:46 PM
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ENCINITAS, Calif., March 13 (UPI) -- Composer, lyricist and arranger Hugh Martin Jr. has died of natural causes at his home in California at age 96, his niece said.

His tunes include "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "The Trolley Song," which were sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical "Meet Me in St. Louis."

Martin died Friday at his home in Encinitas, north of San Diego, his niece, Suzanne Hanners, told the Los Angeles Times.

Martin shared credits for the "Meet Me in St. Louis" songs with Ralph Blane, although in his 2010 biography he said he wrote them by himself.

Set in World War II, the movie and its songs quickly became the favorites of the day, the Times said.

"The audience comes to care deeply about these people and their story," said Miles Kreuger, president of the Los Angeles-based Institute of the American Musical. "It's (the film and songs) a masterpiece."

Martin served in the Army after finishing "Meet Me in St. Louis," where he performed for troops in Europe. Following the war he returned to Hollywood.

Martin and Blane joined forces again for a 1989 Broadway version of "Meet Me in St. Louis," writing several new songs.

Martin was born Aug. 11, 1914, in Birmingham, Ala. He learned to play piano at age 5. Before moving to New York he attended Birmingham Southern College.

He never married and retired in the 1970s.

Martin is survived by his brother, Gordon, of Birmingham, and several nieces and nephews.

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