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Richard Rodgers An Introduction to his Life and Works

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Richard Rodgers

Richard RodgersAn Introduction to his Life and Works

Richard Charles Rodgers was an American composer of music for more than 900 songs and for 43 Broadway musicals. He also composed music for films and television. He is best known for his songwriting partnerships with the lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II. His compositions have had a significant impact on popular music down to the present day, and have an enduring broad appeal.Lets start at the very beginning

Born June 28, 1902 into a prosperous German Jewish family inArverne, Queens,New York City, Rodgers was the son of Mamie (Levy) and Dr. William Abrahams Rodgers, a prominent physician who had changed the family name from Abrahams. Richard began playing the piano by ear at age six. He attended P.S. 10, Townsend Harris Hall andDeWitt Clinton High School. He later attended Columbia University, where he first met a later partner, Oscar Hammerstein.Rodgers spent his early teenage summers in Camp Wigwam (Waterford, Maine) where he composed some of his first songs.A very good place to start

In 1919, Richard met lyricistLorenz Hart, thanks to a friend of Richard's older brother. Rodgers and Hartstruggled for years in the field of musical comedy, writing a number of amateur shows.But by 1935, they wrote an almost unbroken string of hit shows that ended only with Hart's death in 1943. Among the most notable areJumbo(1935),On Your Toes(1936),Babes in Arms(1937),I Married an Angel(1938),The Boys from Syracuse(1938),Pal Joey(1940), and their last original work,By Jupiter(1942). When you sing, you begin with

By 1942, Lorenz Harts health had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer work, and Richard Rodgers was left wondering what to do.His met with his long-time friend, Oscar Hammerstein II, who offered his services as a lyricist in case Richard ever needed him.With Harts blessing, Rodgers began to work on his first project with Oscar Hammerstein a new kind of musical, a show that would change theater forever: a show called: Oklahoma!New beginnings

Before Oklahoma!, musicals had been vehicles for corny jokes, chorus lines of pretty girls, and showcases for hit songs.But Rodgers & Hammerstein wanted to create a musical that was more grounded in believable plot and character, with serious themes, and music that furthered the storyline.They successfully achieved this with Oklahoma! which masterfully blended dance, music, and story, and proved to be wildly popular with audiences and critics as well.Heres the rousing theme song, sung at the end of the play. [VIDEO]Oklahoma!

After the huge success of Oklahoma!, Rodgers & Hammerstein decided to accept an offer to write a movie musical, the fun, romantic State Fair [Title Song]They followed this with the stage musical Carousel about a shady carnival barker who marries a local girl, but is killed during a robbery, and has to watch over his daughter from Heaven. Heres the song June is Bustin Out All Over [VIDEO]Rodgers & Hammerstein also wrote a stirring hymn for Carousel called: Youll Never Walk Alone [VIDEO]State Fair & Carousel

With their next hit musical, 1949s South Pacific, Rodgers & Hammerstein explored racial prejudices, with the main characters struggling against their own intolerant beliefs in the midst of World War II.Heres nurse Nellie Forbush singing Im Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair [VIDEO]And heres two Polynesian children singing a French song Dites Moi [VIDEO]

South Pacific

Rodgers & Hammerstein had so many hits together that many people considered them to have the golden touch, but they had their failures too;Three of their musicals: Allegro, Me & Juliet, and Pipe Dream were all considered failures, and hardly anyone remembers them today. But failures never stopped them they picked themselves up and started over again.Hits & Misses

One thing that made them such an ideal pair is they were willing to take risks and try new things.They tackled a live television musical: Cinderella starring Julie Andrews; [scene after the ball]They examined womens roles, slavery, and foreign lands in The King and I [Getting to Know You]And they looked at the Asian-American experience in Flower Drum Song. [Love, Look Away]

Rising to the challenge

Their final musical together proved to be their most popular.The Sound of Music (1959) is based on a true story of a young nun who goes to be a governess for a widowers family in Austria, brings music into their lives. [Julie Andrews sings The Sound of Music and My Favorite Things]But during the writing of the show, Oscar Hammerstein became sick, and died shortly after the show opened from cancer.Richard Rodgers was left without a partner again.The Sound of Music

For the rest of his career, Richard Rodgers worked with several different composers, on several different Broadway musicals, sometimes writing his own lyrics, but mostly working with others.He won numerous awards and accolades, and worked nearly until his death in 1979.Richard Rodgers beautiful, memorable music continues to be sung and performed all over the world.His final years


OvertureBroadway Cast 2008South Pacific Broadway 2008, track 1/26Soundtrack340740.53 -