A generation of composers, arrangers, and lyricists hailing from the Pittsburgh area learned and practiced their craft in Pittsburgh in the 1920s through the 1940s. Discovered in Pittsburgh they went off to Tin Pan Alley and the Big Bands to become Tony, Oscar, and Grammy winners on Broadway and in the television/film industry. They gave the world many treasured memorable songs including "Thanks for the Memory" by Leo Robin. The first ever movie score was written by Joel Breil (the Father of movie music.) "The Continental" was the first ever Oscar winner for best song, awarded in 1934, is written by Pittsburgh's Herbert Magidson. Charles Wakefield Cadman wrote classical movie scores for Fox Studios in the 1930s. Pianist Oscar Levant wrote music for 20 movies. Under the tutelage of Max Adkins Pittsburgh launched the careers of some of the worlds most honored composers and arrangers: Billy Strayhorn, Henry Mancini, Jerry Fielding, and others. Billy Strayhorn wrote some of the all time classics of the jazz era including "Take the A Train", "Satin Doll" and the master piece "Lush Life". In addition to his Oscars, Henry Mancini won more Grammy awards than any other artist in history. Grammy winners Billy May and Sammy Nestico got their start in big band arranging at WCAE (WTAE) radio in Pittsburgh before writing music for the big bands, TV, and the movies. The recordings of songs written by Jay Livingston, which include Mona Lisa and Silver Bells, have sold over 220 million records. The lyrics and story of the long running musical and movie Hair was written by Pittsburgh born Gerone Ragni. .
The Song Writers Hall of Fame honors Pittsburgh composers Stephen Foster, Ethelbert Nevin, Victor Herbert, Herb Magidson, Leo Robin, Billy Strayhorn, Henry Mancini, Jay Livingston, and Gerome Ragni.