There are many well-known lyricists and composers, but only a few leave such a mark as Rodgers and Hammerstein. This duo produced nine musical plays during their partnership and caused a profound change in musical comedy.They set the standards that are followed to this day in musical history. They created the modern musical that we all know and love.
Before they became Rodgers and Hammerstein, they were simply Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, both of New York City. Hammerstein, born in 1895, was brought up in a theatrical family. His father was an "operatic impresario", otherwise known as an opera director or manager. He built the Harlem Opera House(1888) and the Manhattan Opera House(1906) and also introduced many new singers to the US. From a very young age Hammerstein II committed to the theater even though his family discouraged him. As soon as he was old enough to have a job in his father's theatrical business, he devoted himself to his duties and learned as much as he could about play production and the labors of the theater artist.Oscar eventually teamed up withauthor Otto Harbach and composer Vincent Youmans to produce Wildflower. With help from Harbach, Hammersteinbegan to create professional material for Broadway. Through Otto Harbach,Hammerstein was led into collaboration with Jerome Kern for Sunday.He also worked with Herbert Stothart and George Gershwin on Song of the Flame, a very unsuccessful show. But despite the shows failure, it did lead Hammerstein to concentrate on creating operetta in order to integrate musical comedy with opera. With this in mind, he was able to achieve new standards for success in his career with his lyrics for The Wild Rose andThe Desert Song.
By 1927, after a few more productions, Hammerstein had achieved the technical skill that allowed him to provide a composer with a functional book and lyrics. This was best shown in Showboat, thefirst modern Ameri…