Mort Lindsey scores and papers, 1909-2007, bulk 1942-2007

Summary Information


Mort Lindsey (1923-2012) was an arranger, composer, pianist, and bandleader who worked with Judy Garland, Merv Griffin, Barbra Streisand, and other popular entertainers. This collection comprises scores of Lindsey's compositions and arrangements, along with administrative documents from his stage, film, and television career.

At a Glance

Call No.:
Bib ID:
12444658 View CLIO record
Lindsey, Mort, 1923-2012
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Physical Description:
23 linear feet (24 containers: 1 small box [11x11.5], 2 full hollinger boxes; 12 tall hollinger boxes; 2 flat boxes [19x15], 1 flat box [21x17], 5 flat boxes [23x15], 1 flat box [25x21])
English .
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

All original copies of audio / moving image media are closed until reformatting. Please email for more information.


Scope and Contents

This collection largely comprises musical scores produced during Lindsey's career as an arranger, composer, and conductor; however, it also includes some administrative documents relating to Lindsey's work in film, stage, and television.

The full length and breadth of Lindsey's professional life is represented in this collection, from his early work in the New York City metropolitan area to his later work in the Los Angeles area. This collection comprises many of his arrangements for popular entertainers such as Judy Garland, Merv Griffin, Barbra Streisand, Pat Boone, Michael Bublé, Rod Stewart, and Liza Minnelli. His work in television is particularly well represented, including compositions and arrangements for The Judy Garland Show and for various series produced by Merv Griffin. This collection also includes material from Lindsey's work in film, where he was enganged both as an arranger and as a composer. Among Lindsey's scores are a number of arrangements produced for his wife, the actress and singer Judy Johnson, and many lead sheets from Lindsey's early ventures into songwriting.

Lindsey's scores comprise a variety of media and notational formats. The scores come in many sizes, the most common being 12.5x9.5 inches ("Broadway" size), 11x17 inches ("ledger" size) and 12.5x19 inches ("studio" size). Many early editions of Lindsey's arrangements and compositions appear to have been produced in ink by a professional calligrapher. Some of Lindsey's later arrangements and compositions appear to have been produced in music notation software. This collection contains a significant number of original manuscript scores and sketches in Lindsey's own hand (generally in pencil), on onionskin paper, printer paper, pad paper, and heavy-stock music staff paper. There is also a small quantity of formally published scores of Lindsey's compositions and/or arrangements. This collection contains many reproductions, including ozalid and xerographic copies of both handwritten and typeset material.

Lindsey's arrangements are generally represented in full concert/orchestral score or in short score. He called the latter "conductor scores," or "piano conductor scores" - a term which is generally retained in this collection to refer to sheet music in short score. His original songs are generally presented as lead/fake sheets (Lindsey used the term "lead" or "lead sheet") or occasionally in piano-vocal score. These lead sheets, like many lead sheets of the mid twentieth century, appear to have been handwritten onto onionskin paper (in the so-called "Real Book" calligraphy) and then informally published as ozalid copies (i.e., through a music printing service) for Lindsey and his collaborators to distribute. Many scores also come with a set of instrumental parts, which, in many cases, are incomplete. Some pieces are represented in this collection solely through instrumental parts. In certain cases, Lindsey produced a "rhythm score" in lieu of fully notated parts - a kind of lead sheet that members of the band (generally the rhythm section) played from.

Many documents contain annotations (generally by Lindsey but also possibly by band musicians and lyricists). These annotations are present in: the scores (concert scores, conductor scores, lead sheets, and parts) for Lindsey's arrangements and compositions; lyric sheets; and in published sheet music by other composers (seemingly as part of the arrangement process).

This collection includes a small but notable audio component, including professional covers of two songs that Lindsey wrote for film (on commercially released vinyl LPs) and 14 informally produced recordings of Lindsey's early songs (on lacquer transcription disks).

A range of administrative documents are present in this collection, including schedules (for concerts, rehearsals, filming, recording), invoices (for royalties, services rendered), personnel lists (for concerts, films, or television broadcasts), and repertoire lists (setlists for concerts, cue lists for film and television, inventories of Lindsey's arrangements).

  • Series I: Collaborations with Performers, 1914-2007 (bulk 1958-2007)

    This series contains scores and documents relating to Lindsey's collaborations - as a composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist - with various popular entertainers. The material primarily pertains to his work in television and on the concert stage. The series primarily comprises scores (conductor or concert, handwritten and typewritten) for arrangements, but also includes a number of original compositions (songs, television cues). Lindsey generally titled his arrangements with the name of the performer it was produced for, and not with the name of the original composer or lyricist. Judging from annotations, Lindsey appears to have performed live from a number of these scores. This series is divided into four subseries, arranged by collaborator. Subseries I.1 and I.2 comprise materials produced for Judy Garland and Merv Griffin respectively - two of Lindsey's closest and most notable collaborators. Subseries I.3 comprises arrangements that Lindsey produced for his wife, Judy Johnson: these arrangements are significantly represented in the Mort Lindsey collection. Subseries I.4 includes collaborations with a range of other performers whose work is less heavily represented within the collection.

  • Series II: Film music, 1960-2009

    This series comprises scores and documents relating to Lindsey's activities as a film composer and arranger. Although Lindsey only worked in the film industry very intermittently, he did so over much of his professional career; thus, this series represents almost fifty years of Lindsey's film music. This includes various arrangements that Lindsey produced for film soundtracks and original cues composed by Lindsey. This series largely consists of manuscript concert/orchestral scores, but also contains some conductor scores and parts. It also includes published sheet music and audio recordings (two commercially released LPs) of songs written by Lindsey for the cinema. Films represented among the scores include: Real Life, Stolen Hours, Forty Pounds of Trouble, The Best Man, My One and Only, Cats Don't Dance, Breath of Seth, and Downfall. This series contains scores for instrumental music that Lindsey composed or arranged for television movies and specials (such as the 1960 NBC special Paris à la Mode). This series also includes documents and correspondence relating to the films The Lonely Stage, Real Life, Forty Pounds of Trouble, and Gay Purr-ee.

  • Series III: Early popular songs, 1931-1988 (bulk 1944-1988)

    This series comprises material from Lindsey's early career as a songwriter. It primarily comprises informally published lead sheets (onionskin and ozalid copies), but also includes recordings of several songs (on 14 lacquer disks), lyric sheets (typed and handwritten, some annotated) and song sketches. Many of these songs were composed before Lindsey had taken his stage name, "Mort Lindsey," and are thus written under his birth name, "Morton Lippman." This series includes settings of several lyricists; however, his collaborations with Jerry Seelen and Artie Malvin are the most strongly represented. There are also a number of songs for which Lindsey furnished both words and music. Most of the lead sheets date from the 1950s and 1960s. The song "Lorna" was originally written for The Judy Garland Show; however, Lindsey appears to have marketed it separately in the way that he did his other songs, and so is included in this series.

  • Series IV: Other Professional Activities, 1909-2003 (bulk 1942-2003)

    This series comprises material relating to a range of Lindsey's other professional activities, such as his orchestrations for the Broadway musical Bajour, his Ph.D. research at Columbia University's Teachers College, his music education work with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, his forays into classical music, and various live gigs with the Mort Lindsey Orchestra (for banquets and awards ceremonies). This series, which contains material from across the full length of Lindsey's career, primarily comprises scores, spanning a range of formats (parts, full scores, lead sheets, sketches, conductor scores). Many scores in this series relate to Lindsey's ballet The Seven Ages of Man, on which he wrote his Ph.D. thesis (also included in this series). This series also contains scores for various arrangements and compositions that are not identified with a particular performer or project, including sketches for several instrumental themes. Finally, this series includes Lindsey's collection of published scores by other composers - many of which have been annotated, either for performance or in preparation for arrangement.


This collection is arranged into four series. The first series is arranged into four subseries. Series I is arranged according to collaborator, maintaining Lindsey's original order at the folder level. The first three subseries correspond to the three collaborators who are most strongly represented in this collection - Judy Garland, Merv Griffin, and Judy Johnson - while the fourth subseries groups together compositions and arrangements for a range of other entertainers.

Series II is generally arranged by film, with scores and documents relating to the same film grouped or foldered together (with a few exceptions based on Lindsey's original order). Lyric sheets are often interspersed among lead sheets, in keeping with the original organization of materials.

Series III is arranged by lyricistand then by project: songs with the same lyricist(s) are generally filed together, and, within that, songs for a single project (performance or album) have been grouped in accordance with Lindsey's original order. All song sketches have been combined into a single folder.

Series IV is arranged by activity and/or by piece, in keeping with Lindsey's original filing system.

Using the Collection

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

All original copies of audio / moving image media are closed until reformatting. Please email for more information.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Mort Lindsay Scores and Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Materials

The Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library holds the papers of Sid Ramin (MS#1045), another arranger working with many of the same institutions and artists as Lindsey.

The University of California Los Angeles holds the Merv Griffin Papers which may contain material relating to Griffin's work with Lindsey.

The American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, holds the papers of Jerry Seelen, who wrote the lyrics of many of Lindsey's early songs.

The Library of Congress holds the papers of Peter Matz, who was producing arrangements for Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli around the same time.

Custodial History

After Lindsey's passing in 2012, this material remained in the possession of his wife and son, who donated it to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 2014.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Betty Jane Lindsey, Mort Lindsey's wife, and Trevor Lindsey, his son, in February 2014. Accession number: 2013.2014.M154.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Callum Blackmore (GSAS). Finding aid written by Callum Blackmore in August 2023.

The processing of this collection was made possible by a Graduate Internship in Primary Sources from Columbia Libraries.

Upon donation to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the collection organized into temporary boxes but retained Lindsey's original filing system - which sorted material into acidic folders, envelopes, and piles of loose pages. To better preserve the collection, the material has been reboxed to accommodate oversized materials and refoldered into acid-free folders. Lindsey's original folders and/or envelopes were discarded, unless they contained information salient to the collection that could not be represented in the folder description. Much of the oversized material was found loose in flat boxes or folded into hollinger boxes: this material has been unfolded and placed in folders and boxes of an appropriate size, although many of these oversized items remain creased or warped from the original conditions of their storage.

There are 16 LPs (14 seven- or ten-inch lacquer LPs and 2 seven-inch commercially produced vinyl LPs) which were originally stored in paper sleeves and scattered about the collection: these materials have been placed in acid-free sleeves and have been stored together in Box 1. These materials are found in Series II and III.

Although many scores are in loose-leaf format, most have been taped together at the edges of each page to minimize page-turning during performance. This tape has been retained. In some cases, Lindsey used double-sided tape to bind his scores and, consequently, many pages tend to become stuck together as the adhesive deteriorates . Care should be taken when handling these materials, and they should be monitored for potential Conservation treatment needs. These documents are largely found in Series I, II, and IV. Some documents have been stapled together; these staples have also been retained. All paper clips were removed by the archivist, but the original order of the materials that were clipped together has been maintained wherever possible. Some material has been removed from rusty ring binders: these binders were then discarded. One box was found to contain mold: this box was bagged and taken to conservation for the mold to be removed before it could be completely surveyed. These materials will be reintegrated into the collection upon the removal of this mold. Additionally, there is some dirt and dust in the collection, and many materials are stained or torn from use. At the folder level, Lindsey generally organized his materials by performer and/or activity: materials that had been enveloped or foldered were generally grouped with material relating to the same performer, concert, film, television show, or album. In this case, the original ordering and foldering of materials has been maintained. Crucially, Lindsey tended to group different types of scores together (parts, conductor scores, published scores, copies, manuscripts, etc.): again, this original facet of the ordering has been maintained, unless the scores grouped together were of different sizes and needed to be housed separately. However, a large number of materials were simply kept loose within the collection, often piled into flat boxes containing material that bore little thematic or chronological relation. These loose materials - which tended to be oversized - have been reorganized into folders, which have then been grouped by collaborator and/or activity at the box level. Where the type of activity was not clear but the collaborator was, then the material has been grouped according to collaborator, and vice versa. If neither collaborator nor activity was clear, then the materials have been housed with other materials of similar format in Series IV. Moreover, folders containing similar or equivalent materials were often found separate from each other within Lindsey's organizational scheme. In some cases, where materials were originally foldered separately but clearly belong to the same set (i.e., parts, duplicate copies of lead sheets, etc.), these folders have been combined into a single folder (maintaining the original groupings of the material within the folder). In other cases, folders relating to the same collaborator and/or same kind of activity have been grouped together at the box level. A number of sketches have been grouped together in this way; although song sketches are foldered separately to instrumental sketches, following Lindsey's own (loosely applied) ordering and some sketches have been left interspersed with other finished material. Arrangements for The Judy Garland Show, originally housed across various folders, have been foldered together in Series I, but maintaining the ordering of their original groupings within the foldering.

To aid preservation, oversized materials (largely found in Series I, II and IV) have been stored separately, arranged by size and then according to performer and/or activity. In some cases, oversized materials were originally stored alongside thematically related regular-sized materials (i.e., a 19x12.5 concert score folded around the letter-sized instrumental parts for the same piece). In this case, the materials have been stored separately in the physical arrangement of the collection but described together within the same series in the container list.

Most of the lead sheets in Series III were originally organized into folders according to lyricist; however, some folders contained songs by the different lyricists that appeared to originate from the same time period (i.e., 1953) and others contained a mix of songs from a range of lyricists, spanning multiple years of Lindsey's career. For ease of reference, all lead sheets in Series III have been arranged according to lyricist (the organizational system most prevalent in Lindsey's original ordering). Lindsey kept some lyric sheets for his original songs separate from the sheet music; however, generally, he kept his lyric sheets interleaved among the sheet music, alongside the lead sheets for the songs they correspond to. This original ordering was maintained in processing.

The collection is generally described in aggregate at the folder level. For scores of arrangements in Series I and VI, the names of the original songs have been recorded but not the names of the original composers or lyricists. For the scores from The Judy Garland Show in Subseries I.1, the names of songs, episodes, and performers have been described in aggregate at the folder level but on an item level. The names of each game show cue for the scores in Subseries I.2 have generally not been recorded; however, the folder descriptions contain a representative sample of these names. In Series II, the cue names for the film scores have largely been documented in the folder description. In Series III, the names of Lindsey's original songs and their lyricists have been recorded in the folder description. In Series I and IV, if a folder contains a range of published music by other composers, these items have been described in aggregate at the folder level.

Separated Materials

One box of materials has been removed for mold treatment. Although this box was never fully surveyed, it appeared to contain material relating to Lindsey's ballet The Seven Ages of Man. A file of personal documents relating to the 1967 wedding of Lindsey's daughter has been deaccessioned in order to be returned to the family. Folders and envelopes were discarded unless they contained information salient to the interpretation of the collection; in some cases, the text of the original folder labels has been recorded in the folder description.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Mort Lindsey (1923-2012) was an arranger, composer, bandleader, and pianist known for his orchestrations of the Great American Songbook for the television and concert stages. He collaborated with a number of popular artists of the mid-to-late twentieth century, including Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Merv Griffin, Pat Boone, Liza Minnelli, Michael Bublé, and Rod Stewart.

Born Morton Lippman in Newark, NJ to Russian-Jewish parents, Mort Lindsey trained as a classical pianist and entered show business as a studio pianist for NBC. An avid composer, he launched a career writing Tin-Pan-Alley songs - generally collaborating with other television professionals (Lou Meltzer, Herb Sargent, Jerry Seelen, Artie Malvin, George Skinner, Dick Dudley) seeking to try their hand at songwriting.

Lindsey became primarily known as a bandleader and orchestrator, coming to prominence through the television industry. A stint on The George Skinner Show in the mid 1950s made way for various onscreen collaborations with singer Pat Boone. However, it was Lindsey's work with Judy Garland in the early 1960s which catapulted him to national fame. Garland, reeling from her high-profile split with MGM, was in the process of reinventing her career as a stage and television performer. She brought in Lindsey to aid in this career revival, asking him to conduct and orchestrate her famous Carnegie Hall concert in 1961, often dubbed the "the greatest night in show business history." The live recording of this concert earned Lindsey a Grammy Award the following year.

Lindsey continued to work with Judy Garland until her passing in 1969. He served as arranger, conductor, and pianist on The Judy Garland Show on CBS: in addition to furnishing arrangements for Garland and her glittery roster of guest performers, Lindsey penned the show's theme song, which was later given lyrics by Johnny Mercer. It was through The Judy Garland Show that Lindsey met Barbra Streisand, giving rise to a number of collaborations between the two artists. Lindsey earned an Emmy Award in 1969 for his work on Barbra Streisand's televised concert, A Happening in Central Park. However, Lindsey's longest-lasting collaboration was the TV personality Merv Griffin, which spanned The Merv Griffin Show, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and a number of other pilots, specials, and live events from the 1960s to the 1990s. Lindsey's musical credits include a number of film scores (Forty Pounds of Trouble, Real Life, The Best Man, Stolen Hours, The Seducers, I Could Go On Singing, Cats Don't Dance, Gay Purr-ee), orchestrations for the Broadway musical Bajour, and a ballet The Seven Ages of Man.

Lindsey married twice and had six children. His second marriage, to the singer Betty Bonney (stage name Judy Johnson) in 1954, was also an artistic collaboration, with Lindsey serving as her arranger and accompanist. He earned a Ph.D. in music education from Columbia University in 1974, where he had also received his B.A. thirty years earlier. After spending much of his early career in New York and New Jersey, Lindsey eventually settled in Malibu, where he passed away at the age of 89 in 2012.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches for other collections at Columbia University, through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, and through ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

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Scores (documents for music) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Bonney, Betty CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Boone, Pat CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Bublé, Michael CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Teachers College CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Feinstein, Michael CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Garland, Judy CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Griffin, Merv, 1925-2007 CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Jeopardy! (Television program) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Johnson, Judy ((Vocalist)) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Judy Garland show. Television program (1963) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Malvin, Arthur CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Mercer, Johnny, 1909-1976 CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Merv Griffin show. Television program CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Minnelli, Liza CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Seelen, Jerry, 1912-1981 CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Stewart, Rod CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Streisand, Barbra CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Wheel of fortune. Television program CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Arrangement (Music) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Arrangers (Musicians) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Band directors CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Band music, arranged CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Composers CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Film composers CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Instrumentation and orchestration CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Instrumentation and orchestration (Band) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Motion picture music CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Music -- Manuscripts CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Music by Jewish composers CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Musical sketches CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Popular music -- United States -- 1961-1970 CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Popular music--Fake books CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Songs with band CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Television composers CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Television music CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID