Bacharach, Burt

Bacharach, Burt băkˈərăkˌ [key], 1928–2023, American composer, arranger, and conductor, b. Kansas City, Mo. He began his career playing piano with jazz bands in the 1940s and then as a pianist and arranger for nightclub acts, notably with Marlene Dietrich in the 1950s. With lyricist Hal David, Bacharach produced many popular songs from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, including more than 50 top singles. These include “Don't Make Me Over,” “What the World Needs Now,” “Walk On By,” and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose.” The team also provided words and music for the successful Broadway musical Promises, Promises (1968) and the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969; Academy Award). The partnership ended in 1973, and Bacharach began working with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager in 1981 (they married the following year). The two scored a big hit with their song “That's What Friends Are For” in 1986. Bachrach has also written soundtracks for later films, e.g., Arthur (1981; Academy Award), Grace of My Heart (1996, with rocker Elvis Costello), and Austin Powers (1997). Bacharach's music utilizes a variety of styles, including Latin, rock, and gospel, and is marked by unexpected chord changes.

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