Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution
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Henry Holt and Co. 2018
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Description

A revelatory portrait of the creative partnership that transformed musical theater and provided the soundtrack to the American Century

They stand at the apex of the great age of songwriting, the creators of the classic Broadway musicals Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, whose songs have never lost their popularity or emotional power. Even before they joined forces, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II had written dozens of Broadway shows, but together they pioneered a new art form: the serious musical play. Their songs and dance numbers served to advance the drama and reveal character, a sharp break from the past and the template on which all future musicals would be built.

Though different in personality and often emotionally distant from each other, Rodgers and Hammerstein presented an unbroken front to the world and forged much more than a songwriting team; their partnership was also one of the most profitable and powerful entertainment businesses of their era. They were cultural powerhouses whose work came to define postwar America on stage, screen, television, and radio. But they also had their failures and flops, and more than once they feared they had lost their touch.

Todd S. Purdum's portrait of these two men, their creative process, and their groundbreaking innovations will captivate lovers of musical theater, lovers of the classic American songbook, and young lovers wherever they are. He shows that what Rodgers and Hammerstein wrought was truly something wonderful.

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Street Date:
04/03/2018
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781627798358
ASIN:
B074SVPZMK
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      • bioText: Todd S. Purdum is the author of An Idea Whose Time Has Come and A Time of Our Choosing. He is a staff writer for The Atlantic, having previously worked for more than twenty years at The New York Times, where he covered beats from City Hall to the White House and served as Los Angeles bureau chief. He has also been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a senior writer at Politico. A native of Macomb, Illinois, and a graduate of Princeton University, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Dee Dee Myers, and their two children.Todd S. Purdum is the author of An Idea Whose Time Has Come and A Time of Our Choosing. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a senior writer at Politico, having previously worked at The New York Times for more than twenty years, where he served as White House correspondent, diplomatic correspondent, and Los Angeles bureau chief. A graduate of Princeton University, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Dee Dee Myers, and their two children, Kate and Stephen.
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shortDescription

A revelatory portrait of the creative partnership that transformed musical theater and provided the soundtrack to the American Century

They stand at the apex of the great age of songwriting, the creators of the classic Broadway musicals Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, whose songs have never lost their popularity or emotional power. Even before they joined forces, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II had written dozens of Broadway shows, but together they pioneered a new art form: the serious musical play. Their songs and dance numbers served to advance the drama and reveal character, a sharp break from the past and the template on which all future musicals would be built.

Though different in personality and often emotionally distant from each other, Rodgers and Hammerstein presented an unbroken front to the world and forged much more than a songwriting team; their partnership...

isOwnedByCollections
True
title
Something Wonderful
fullDescription

A revelatory portrait of the creative partnership that transformed musical theater and provided the soundtrack to the American Century

They stand at the apex of the great age of songwriting, the creators of the classic Broadway musicals Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, whose songs have never lost their popularity or emotional power. Even before they joined forces, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II had written dozens of Broadway shows, but together they pioneered a new art form: the serious musical play. Their songs and dance numbers served to advance the drama and reveal character, a sharp break from the past and the template on which all future musicals would be built.


Though different in personality and often emotionally distant from each other, Rodgers and Hammerstein presented an unbroken front to the world and forged much more than a songwriting team; their partnership was also one of the most profitable and powerful entertainment businesses of their era. They were cultural powerhouses whose work came to define postwar America on stage, screen, television, and radio. But they also had their failures and flops, and more than once they feared they had lost their touch.


Todd S. Purdum's portrait of these two men, their creative process, and their groundbreaking innovations will captivate lovers of musical theater, lovers of the classic American songbook, and young lovers wherever they are. He shows that what Rodgers and Hammerstein wrought was truly something wonderful.

sortTitle
Something Wonderful Rodgers and Hammersteins Broadway Revolution
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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        January 8, 2018
        No songwriting duo is as ubiquitous in American pop culture as Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, argues Purdum (An Idea Whose Time Has Come) in this thorough biography of the pair that largely focuses on two decades of wild success beginning with Oklahoma! and triumphantly concluding with The Sound of Music. Purdum follows Rodgers and Hammerstein separately through their formative years before their meeting in the early 1940s ushered in a sweeping revolution on Broadway. Though many pages are devoted to somewhat formulaic chronologies of the duo’s hallmark productions and also their less-successful ventures, such as Allegro, Purdum sufficiently explores their conflicting personalities, savvy business practices (they established a music publishing company and produced other plays), and sheer innovation, all of which led to the endurance of their work. Despite waning critical acclaim in the twilight years of their partnership, Rodgers and Hammerstein continued to have commercial success (largely fueled by The Sound of Music). Purdum’s anecdote-filled account is a sterling primer on the influential duo, both for newcomers to their work and to those looking to rekindle an old flame.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        February 1, 2018

        Veteran reporter-writer Purdum (An Idea Whose Time Has Come) shows how composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein were not only a great show-writing team but revolutionary for their time. Between 1943 and 1949, they expanded the boundaries of Broadway musical theater with Oklahoma!, Carousel, and South Pacific, along the way amassing huge fortunes. As a team, they won every award there was, including two Pulitzers, and in 1951, the top shows on Broadway were theirs: South Pacific and The King and I. Hammerstein's multiple drafts of his lyrics let readers see how he molded them as he wrote and rewrote. Purdum presents ample evidence of Rodger's equally meticulous attention to detail. Their essays in social conscience may sound timid today, but they stood out back then, most notably in the song "You've Got To Be Taught To Hate" from South Pacific. Purdum's comments concerning both their personal and musical failures (most notably, 1947's Allegro) are clear, fair, and to the point. VERDICT This lively book will appeal to anyone who loves theater, songwriting, or biography. [See Prepub Alert, 10/4/17.]--David Keymer, Cleveland

        Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 1, 2018
        From an incomparable partnership, musical theater rang out with ebullience, lyricism, and soaring melodies.Composer Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) had worked with the lyricist Lorenz Hart before teaming up with Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960) in 1942; Hammerstein already had decades of experience in theater, beginning in 1915 when he joined a university troupe as a writer and performer. As Politico senior writer Purdum (An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 2014) amply shows in his joyous, brisk, and gossipy dual biography, their partnership brought out the best in both men: from Hammerstein, lyrics of "shimmering loveliness." His lyrics, Julie Andrews remarked with admiration, were "rich, brilliantly constructed and so very specific to the worlds they created together," scored by Rodgers' "melodically glorious" music. They worked independently but with uncanny synergy: Hammerstein wrote the words first, sending them to Rodgers, who composed with incredible speed. Once asked how long it took him to compose the entire score of Oklahoma!, he estimated "about five hours." Purdum calls their creativity "alchemy," which aptly describes the magic that resulted in some of the most iconic Broadway shows of the mid-20th century, including Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. The author traces the chronology of each show--even the lesser-known productions and the flops--from lighting upon an idea through developing a storyline, writing music, finding a director, hiring a cast (many young singers rose to stardom in the duo's musicals), and assembling a team. Although they closely managed their productions, they depended on other talented participants, notably orchestrator Robert Russell Bennett; choreographers Agnes de Mille and Jerome Robbins; vocal arranger Trude Rittmann; and scenic designer Jo Mielziner. Aside from work, Rodgers and Hammerstein were not confidants, although they signed their correspondence "love." Yet they revealed depths of emotion in music, as one friend put it, that "parses the grammar of the heart."An exuberant celebration of musical genius.

        COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

subtitle
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution
popularity
840
publisher
Henry Holt and Co.
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