powered by FreeFind


Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II

Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II

After long and highly distinguished careers with other collaborators, Richard Rodgers (composer) and Oscar Hammerstein II (librettist/lyricist) joined forces to create the most consistently fruitful and successful partnership in the American musical theatre.

Prior to his work with Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) collaborated with lyricist Lorenz Hart on a series of musical comedies that epitomised the wit and sophistication of Broadway in its heyday. Prolific on Broadway, in London and in Hollywood from the '20s into the early '40s, Rodgers & Hart wrote more than 40 shows and film scores. Among their greatest were On Your Toes, Babes In Arms, The Boys From Syracuse, I Married An Angel and Pal Joey.

Throughout the same era Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960) brought new life to a moribund art form: the operetta. His collaborations with such pre-eminent composers as Rudolf Friml, Sigmund Romberg and Vincent Youmans resulted in such operetta classics as The Desert Song, Rose-Marie, and The New Moon. With Jerome Kern he wrote Show Boat, the 1927 operetta that changed the course of modern musical theatre. His last musical before embarking on an exclusive partnership with Richard Rodgers was the highly-acclaimed 1943 all-black version of Bizet's tragic opera Carmen, entitled Carmen Jones. Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II

Oklahoma!, the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, was also the first of a new genre, the musical play, representing a unique fusion of Rodgers' musical comedy and Hammerstein's operetta. A milestone in the development of the American musical, it also marked the beginning of the most successful partnership in Broadway musical history and was followed by Carousel, Allegro, South Pacific, The King and I, Me and Juliet, Pipe Dream, Flower Drum Song and The Sound Of Music. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote one musical specifically for the big screen, State Fair, and one for television, Cinderella. Most of their stage musicals transferred to the screen as well, earning a total of fourteen Academy Awards; their greatest film success was The Sound Of Music, the 1965 Best Picture and the most popular musical film ever made.

Despite Hammerstein's death in 1960, Rodgers continued to write for the Broadway stage. His first solo entry, No Strings, earned him two Tony Awards for music and lyrics, and was followed by Do I Hear A Waltz?, Two By Two, Rex and I Remember Mama. Richard Rodgers died on 30 December, 1979, less than eight months after his last musical opened on Broadway. In March of 1990, Broadway's 46th Street Theatre was renamed The Richard Rodgers Theatre in his honour.