Veteran Tin Pan Alley pianist and composer.

Browse Song Catalog: ASCAP

Louis Alter


Career spanned from silent films to World War II shows for the troops.

Composer Louis Alter was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts on June 18, 1902. At the age of 13, he began playing the piano in local Movie Houses for silent pictures and shortly after enrolled at the New England Conservatory under the tutelage of Stuart Mason.

From 1924 through 1928, Alter was the accompanist and touring partner to entertainer Nora Bayes. In 1928, he began composting and had his first hit with “Manhattan Serenade”, originally an instrumental that would later become the theme song for Easy Aces Radio Show in the 1930’s. The song would have another incarnation in 1942 when Harold Adamson would add a lyric.

Alter moved to Hollywood in 1929 and continued accompanying various singers including Irene Bordoni, Helen Morgan, and Beatrice Lillie. He also wrote music for a few Broadway musicals and for several film scores. For Broadway, Alter contributed songs to such hits as Ballyhoo, Earl Carroll’s Vanities 1925 and 1928 Americana, Sweet and Low, Crazy Quilt and Hold Your Horses.

His filmography includes Hollywood Revue, Rainbow on the River, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Sing, Baby, Sing, Make a Wish, Las Vegas Nights and New Orleans.

In 1941, Alter entered World War II in the US Air Force, entertaining troops throughout the air bases. He also played as a piano soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing at the Hollywood Bowl.

Throughout his career, Alter collaborated with several lyricists including Joe Goodwin, Jo Trent, Sidney Mitchell, Edward Heyman, Frank Loesser, Paul Francis Webster, Eddie Delange, Harold Adamson, Ray Klages, Bob Russell, Milton Drake, Oscar Hammerstein II, Lew Brown, and Stanley Adams.

Highlights from Alter’s popular catalog include “The Sky Fell Down”, “Blue Shadows”, “My Kinda Love”, “Overnight”, “I’m One of God’s Children”, “I Was Taken by Storm”, “I’ve Got Sand in My Shoes”, “Rainbow on the River”,”, “Twilight on the Trail”, “A Melody from the Sky”, “You Turned the Tables on Me”, “Dolores”, “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?”, “Circus”, “Nina Never Knew” and “My Ecstasy”.

Alter also wrote several instrumentals and full orchestral works including “Manhattan Moonlight”, “Manhattan Masquerade”, “Metropolitan Nocturne”, “Side Street in Gotham”, “American Serenade” and “Jewels from Cartier”.

Louis Alter died in New York City in 1980.

 His first hit was "Manhattan Serenade" (1929)