Program Details

Unsung Songwriters of the Great American Songbook

Al Kustanowitz
Video Catch-up

Course Description

Most of the words to the songs of the "The Great American Songbook" were written by lyricists we recognize as household names. Irving Berlin, Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein, and Johnny Mercer account for 250 of these songs. But the songbook includes many more songs, and some of the most popular were written by songwriters who wrote only one or a few. This presentation will look at these great but unsung songwriters' lives and times, and the audience will listen to some of their best-known songs. “Misty”, by Johnny Burke, “As Time Goes By”, by Herman Hupfeld, “I'll be Seeing You”, by Irving Kahal, “Stardust”, by Mitchell Parish, and “It Was a Very Good Year”, by Ervin Drake are a few of the songs we will explore and enjoy. Visual images, audio, and video clips will be used to enhance the program, including video clips of performances by the singers who made the songs famous.

About the Instructor

  • A long-term devotee of Jewish humor, Al Kustanowitz, MBA, has been collecting and sharing it even before there was an internet. In 2009, after a 36-year career at IBM, managing new technology projects, Kustanowitz founded Jewish Humor Central (, an internet blog. Through the blog he brings a daily dose of fun and positive energy to readers who would otherwise start the day reading news that is often drab, dreary, and depressing, ( subscribing is free). He has published 11 books on Jewish humor based on his more than 3,500 blog postings, each of which includes a video clip and his commentary. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the City University of New York and taught computer science courses at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University.