For someone who kept such a low profile during his decades-long career that it’s difficult to even find a picture of him now, Georgie Stoll helped introduce an amazing amount of memorable music. From his early days as a jazz violinist to his many years as a composer, an arranger, and the director of the MGM orchestra, he left behind a vast treasury of songs. He was a special favorite of Judy Garland, as the man behind the music for some of her biggest movie musical hits, including Meet Me In St. Louis and In The Good Old Summertime.
The Minneapolis-born Stoll was a violin prodigy who became very well-known in the late 1920s while touring America as part of a group known as the Jazzmania Quintet, which also featured vocalist Edythe Flynn. Amazingly enough, early sound film of him performing with the group is still around and is not only musically interesting, but also fun to watch for his inventive bowing technique part-way through. (See video below.)
The young musician soon began leading his own groups, often appearing on radio while performing with stars like Jack Oakie and eventually Bing Crosby, who chose him as the musical director of his early 1930s radio show. It wasn’t long before Stoll was also part of Crosby’s efforts in the recording studio, and subsequently began working with other record stars like Louis Armstrong.
By the late 1930s Stoll was beginning to work his way into what would become his life’s work — movie music. (Although he would always keep one foot in the jazz world.) Over the next three decades he had a hand in the music behind nearly one hundred movies, including some of the biggest musicals around. In addition to the two mentioned earlier, he was involved in the Wizard Of Oz, Strike Up The Band, For Me And My Gal, Anchors Aweigh, Du Barry Was A Lady, and countless others. By the late 1960s he was ready to take a well-earned retirement, and he pretty much led a quiet life until dying at age 80 in 1985.