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Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers

Geoffrey Block
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Richard Rodgers
    Book Description:

    Richard Rodgers was an icon of the musical theater, a prolific composer whose career spanned six decades and who wrote more than a thousand songs and forty shows for the American stage. In this absorbing book, Geoffrey Block examines Rodgers's entire career, providing rich details about the creation, staging, and critical reception of some of his most popular musicals.

    Block traces Rodgers's musical education, early work, and the development of his musical and dramatic language. He focuses on two shows by Rodgers and Hart (A Connecticut Yankee andThe Boys from Syracuse)and two by Rodgers and Hammerstein (South Pacific and Cinderella),offering new insights into each one. He concludes with the first serious look at the five neglected and often maligned musicals that Rodgers composed in the 1960s and 1970s, after the death of Hammerstein.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12754-6
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Rodgers, the Workaholic
    (pp. 1-7)

    In her introduction to the second edition of richard Rodgers’s autobiographyMusical Stages,Mary Rodgers wrote about the downside of her father’s private emotional life.¹ Rodgers himself disclosed inMusical Stagesthat shortly after the stunning success of the national television broadcast ofCinderellain the spring of 1957 he ‘‘lost all interest’’ in his work and ‘‘simply didn’t give a dam[n] about doing anything or seeing anyone.’’² He also acknowledged a drinking problem as ‘‘one of the most disturbing manifestations’’ of a prolonged and profound depression. By June, Rodgers had checked himself into Payne Whitney, memorably described by Jean Stafford...

  6. CHAPTER 1 From Apprentice to Musical Dramatist
    (pp. 8-46)

    Richard rodgers shared a geographical and cultural background with his illustrious song- and show-writing contemporaries, most notably Jerome Kern (1885–1945), Irving Berlin (1888–1989), and George Gershwin (1898–1937). Like Kern and Gershwin, Rodgers grew up in New York City (Irving Berlin arrived in New York at age five from the Russian town of Temun). All four were the sons of Jewish immigrants from Central or Eastern Europe or Russia. Rodgers could trace his descent from the Levys on his mother’s side and the Rogozinskys on his father’s; both were Russian Jewish families who had immigrated to the United...

  7. CHAPTER 2 A Tale of Two Connecticut Yankees
    (pp. 47-74)

    For rodgers and hart, the brief period fromthe garrick Gaieties(May 17, 1925) toBetsy(December 28, 1926) was marked by a frenzy of activity and a nearly unbroken string of successes in New York City and London. It encompassed three New York revues, the ‘‘schmaltzy and smart’’Garrick Gaietiesof 1925 and 1926 on Broadway and a nightclub revue at the Fifth Avenue Club (The Fifth Avenue Follies). It featured a musical comedy that successfully catered to London tastes,Lido Lady(1926), equipped with a surefire hit from Broadway’sDearest Enemy,‘‘Here in My Arms.’’ At the end...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Hits, Long Runs, and a Musical Comedy of Errors
    (pp. 75-119)

    By 1935, rodgers and hart had been away from broadway for a little more than four years. It was at least some consolation that, during this economically bleak period on the New York stage, Hollywood was willing to support the life to which the partners had grown accustomed. Despite relative inactivity in their temporary home, Rodgers and Hart managed to create the lyrics and music for a film masterpiece,Love Me Tonight(1932), starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald and produced and directed by Rouben Mamoulian (the future director ofPorgy and Bess, Oklahoma!,andCarousel). They also wrote the...

  9. CHAPTER 4 World War II, the Musical: South Pacific
    (pp. 120-170)

    Prior to south pacific, rodgers and hammerstein’s musicals inhabited earlier eras and remote American locales.Oklahoma!takes place in the Indian Territory of the future state ‘‘just after the turn of the century.’’Carouselis set in a New England fishing village over a fifteen-year period, between 1873 and 1888.Allegro(1947) eventually makes its way to 1940, but much of it transpires in the Midwest between 1905 and the 1920s.South Pacificis the first Rodgers and Hammerstein (henceforth R&H) show to present a dramatic story in an exotic, contemporary setting: the South Pacific islands during the recently concluded...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Broadway Comes to Television: The Three Cinderellas
    (pp. 171-201)

    By the end of the 1940s, rodgers and hammerstein had reached a plateau of success and dominance. Two remaining triumphs would launch and conclude their second and final decade,The King and I(1951) andThe Sound of Music(1959). But the framing musicals of the 1940s,Oklahoma!(1943) andSouth Pacific(1949), were not only the two longest running musicals of their time, they would remain R&H’s greatest popular successes. In their role as producers, R&H were also responsible for the third-longest-running show of the 1940s,Annie Get Your Gun(1946), with a book by old friends and collaborators...

  11. CHAPTER 6 After Hammerstein
    (pp. 202-256)

    The legend of richard rodgers continued to grow and prosper after the death of Oscar Hammerstein, Rodgers’s partner fromOklahoma! to The Sound of Music—eighteen years of mostly bright, golden haze on the meadow. Five years after Hammerstein died of stomach cancer in 1960, a film version ofThe Sound of Musicarrived with two new songs, words and music by Rodgers (‘‘I Have Confidence in Me’’ and ‘‘Something Good’’). The film would reign as box office champion for the next four years, and it remains the highest grossing film musical of all time.¹ Overlapping its initial release was...

  12. Works by Richard Rodgers
    (pp. 257-260)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 261-290)
  14. Permissions
    (pp. 291-296)
  15. General Index
    (pp. 297-308)
  16. Index of Rodgers’s Works
    (pp. 309-315)