The Richard Rodgers Reader

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"Excellent."--John Lahr, The New Yorker

"A useful and informative anthology of essays, interviews, and criticism drawn from a diversity of published and unpublished sources.... The Richard Rodgers Reader is like surfing the Internet. One can dip into it or read it section by section."
--Mel Gussow, New York Times

Richard Rodgers was one of America's most prolific and best-loved composers. A world without "My Funny Valentine," "The Lady is a Tramp," "Blue Moon," and "Bewitched," to name just a few of the songs he wrote with Lorenz Hart, is scarcely imaginable, and the musicals he wrote with his second collaborator, Oscar Hammerstein--Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music--continue to enchant and entertain audiences.

Arranged in four sections, Rodgers and Hart (1929-1943), Rodgers and Hammerstein (1943-1960), Rodgers After Hammerstein (1960-1979), and The Composer Speaks (1939-1971), The Richard Rodgers Reader offers a cornucopia of informative, perceptive, and stylish biographical and critical overviews. It also contains a selection of Rodgers's letters to his wife Dorothy in the 1920s, the 1938 Time magazine cover story and New Yorker profiles in 1938 and 1961, and essays and reviews by such noted critics as Brooks Atkinson, Eric Bentley, Leonard Bernstein, Lehman Engel, Walter Kerr, Ken Mandelbaum, Ethan Mordden, George Jean Nathan, and Alec Wilder. The volume features personal accounts by Richard Adler, Agnes de Mille, Joshua Logan, Mary Martin, and Diahann Carroll. The collection concludes with complete selections from more than thirty years of Rodgers's own writings on topics ranging from the creative process, the state of the Broadway theater, even Rodgers's bout with cancer, and a generous sample from the candid and previously unpublished Columbia University interviews.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) was not only the composer of 1940s and '50s Broadway musicals like Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music (all in collaboration with Oscar Hammerstein II), but also the melodist for the witty, tender lyrics of Lorenz Hart in beloved songs like "My Funny Valentine," "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "Blue Moon." Block, a music theory and history professor at the University of Puget Sound and a composer of musicals himself, divides this survey of writings on Rodgers into four sections: "Rodgers and Hart (1929-1943)," "Rodgers and Hammerstein (1943-1960)," "Rodgers After Hammerstein (1960-1979)" and "The Composer Speaks (1939-1971)." The collection includes excerpts from recent scholarly works by musicologist Allen Forte and lyrics expert Philip Furia, as well as some letters from Rodgers to his wife, Dorothy, in the 1920s; contemporary commentary by theater critics like Eric Bentley; and reminiscences by performers who worked with Rodgers, such as Diahann Carroll. Block may overdo his enthusiasm about some of the more banal contributions, like the clich d entry by performer Mary Martin, but he also includes strong, entertaining pieces by informed music writers like Joshua Logan, Brooks Atkinson and George Jean Nathan. Rodgers's own tight-lipped comments paint a portrait of the man as vividly as anything else in this book. Good for serious performing arts readers, although a few pages of musicological analysis may be over the heads of some Broadway babies. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
For this book, Block (music history, Univ. of Puget Sound; Enchanted Evenings) has assembled fascinating pieces of writing about the popular American composer of Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music. While not strictly a biography, it is divided into four chronological parts: "Rodgers and Hart," "Rodgers and Hammerstein," "Rodgers After Hammerstein," and "The Composer Speaks." Among the pieces included are a Time magazine story (Rodgers and Hart made the cover in 1938); a profile from The New Yorker; reminiscences by Rodgers's wife; a piece by longtime collaborator Oscar Hammerstein; an unflattering account of Rodgers from actress and singer Diahann Carroll's autobiography; classic criticism by Alec Wilder, Walter Kerr, and Leonard Bernstein; and other writings by those who knew Rodgers or wrote about the American musical theater. Music examples are provided throughout. Much of the best writing on Rodgers and his music is included here, though Meryle Secrest's recent Somewhere for Me: A Biography of Richard Rodgers is not represented. The most valuable contribution (and also the longest) is a never-before-published excerpt from an interview with Rodgers around 1968. A fine combination of anecdote, music criticism, and biography, this is recommended for all libraries interested in American popular culture and American musical theater.--Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ., Kingsville Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195139549
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Series: Readers on American Musicians Series
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Block is Professor of Music History at the University of Puget Sound. The author of Enchanted Evenings (OUP 1997) and three books on Charles Ives, he is now completing a book on Richard Rodgers's Broadway career.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
pt. I Rodgers and Hart, 1919-1943
The Age of Rodgers and Hart 11
"My Heart Stood Still" 19
From Letters to Dorothy, 1926-1937 and A Personal Book 30
Chee-Chee, The Castration Musical 39
Cover Story: "The Boys from Columbia" 47
"Words and Music: Rodgers and Hart" 53
Pal Joey: Drawing "Sweet Water from a Foul Well" 68
"Not a Few of His Songs Were Left on the Cutting Room Floor" 70
Remembering Rodgers and Hart 79
pt. II Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1943-1960
"As Corny as Kansas in August, As Restless as a Willow in a Windstorm" 87
"The Work That Changed the Form" 105
The Theatre Guild Presents Oklahoma! and Carousel 112
"R. and H." 124
"What Is a Richard Rodgers?" 133
"There's Hope for Everyone" 146
The Art of Adaptation 152
Rethinking Pal Joey 158
"The American Musical" 159
"The Musical Stage" 162
"Moving in the Direction of Opera" 167
A Few Favorite Things about Rodgers with Hammerstein 172
"The Nicest Guys in Show Business" 178
"Introduction" to Richard Rodgers 186
pt. III Rodgers after Hammerstein, 1960-1979
"You Can't Force It" 193
"Rodgers Without Hammerstein" 211
"Richard Rodgers Is Calling" 217
"The Less Said, the Better" 224
"The Plot Against Musicals" 231
The Perils of Producing Rex 240
Anatomy of a Flop: Pipe Dream, Do I Hear a Waltz?, Rex, and I Remember Mama 244
"Overture" to Richard Rodgers 252
"Introduction" to Musical Stages 255
pt. IV The Composer Speaks, 1939-1971
"How to Write Music in No Easy Lessons: A Self Interview" [1939] 261
"Introduction" to The Rodgers and Hart Song Book [1951] 265
"Jerome Kern: A Tribute" [1951] 268
"Pal Joey: History of a 'Heel'" [1951] 272
"The Right to Revive" (or "Revive and Let Live") [1954] 275
"Cancer? I've Had It!" [1957] 277
"Introduction" (with Oscar Hammerstein) to The Rodgers and Hammerstein Song Book [1958] 281
"Hammerstein: Words by Rodgers" [1960] 284
"Opera and Broadway" [1961] 289
"Now the Musical Theater Is Enshrined" [1964] 293
"A Composer Looks at His Lyricists" [1967] 299
Reminiscences of Richard Rodgers [1969] 303
"The Broadway Audience Is Still There, Waiting for More Good Shows" [1971] 326
Credits 335
Index of Rodgers's Works 341
General Index 345
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