Richard Rodgers (Yale Broadway Masters) by Geoffrey Holden Block

By Geoffrey Holden Block

Richard Rodgers used to be an icon of the musical theatre, a prolific composer whose profession spanned six a long time and who wrote greater than one thousand songs and forty exhibits for the yank degree. during this e-book, Geoffrey Block examines Rodgers's complete occupation, offering wealthy information about the production, staging, and significant reception of a few of his preferred musicals. Block strains Rodgers's musical schooling, early paintings, and the advance of his musical and dramatic language. He makes a speciality of exhibits via Rodgers and Hart ("A Connecticut Yankee" and "The Boys from Syracuse") and via Rodgers and Hammerstein ("South Pacific" and "Cinderella"), delivering new insights into every one. He concludes with the 1st severe examine the 5 missed and infrequently maligned musicals that Rodgers composed within the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies, after the loss of life of Hammerstein.

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By the time Rodgers and Hart succeeded with The Garrick Gaieties, only Kern was regularly composing complete scores for musical comedies. Our quintet of songwriters also shares the phenomenon of the breakthrough song. In each case, after years of composing dozens, even scores, of songs, one particular song connected with the public and rocketed these songwriters to instant and prolonged fame. For Berlin, the song was ‘‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’’ (no. 39 After Berlin’s ‘‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’’ and ‘‘When I Lost You’’ came Kern’s ‘‘They Didn’t Believe Me’’ in The Girl from Utah (1914).

H. Lawrence’s Women in Love and Wodehouse’s 1919 novel A Damsel in Distress. ’’ is complicated here and in numerous other instances by the fact that the title probably preceded the first musical ideas, as well as the other words in the lyric. It has already been suggested that because titles can comprise some of the words, often the key words, of a song, we should not take the music first (Hart) versus lyrics first (Hammerstein) dichotomy too literally. In ‘‘My Heart Stood Still’’ variations on the title phrase occur three times, once in each A section of the A-A-B-A chorus (‘‘And then my heart stood still,’’ in future A sections altered to ‘‘And yet my heart stood still’’ and ‘‘when my heart stood still’’), roughly half of the words allotted to these sections.

Rodgers’s letters to his future wife, Dorothy, reveal that the balance between art and commerce may have uncharacteristically tipped in the former direction during the creation of Chee-Chee in 1928. During the Philadelphia tryouts Rodgers wrote with pride that ‘‘no matter what happens to us commercially we’ve accomplished what we’ve been after for years’’ (September 7) and offered the opinion that his innovative show was ‘‘the best musical thing I’ve ever seen’’ (September 12). Years later in Musical Stages Rodgers offers a glimpse of why he felt that way at the time: From a strictly creative standpoint it offered the challenge of introducing an entirely new concept within the framework of musical theatre.

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