He was born into a Jewish family in Berlin but he was raised as a Lutheran to protect him from Nazi persecution. He fled Germany to Italy in 1937 as he was about to be inducted into the Hitler youth movement. After attending a music conservatory in Rome, he obtained a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati and immigrated to the United States in 1939 penniless to avoid being conscripted by German military authorities. Arriving at age of 18 and unable to speak a word of English, he took the last name of his adopted father, Elliott B. Hague, an eye surgeon with close ties to the university. He graduated in 1942 and served in the U.S. military for more than two years before embarking on a career as a composer. (1955) He celebrated his first Broadway success with the opening of the hit 1955 musical 'Plain and Fancy,' an Amish-themed show that featured Barbara Cook and the popular song `Young and Foolish.'