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The Wordsmiths: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd and Alan Jay Lerner

Overview

(Applause Books). Incomparable and unique in their ability to write both libretti and lyrics, Oscar Hammerstein and Alan Jay Lerner brought the musical theater to an artistic peak that remains unsurpassed. From Show Boat , Oklahoma! , and The Sound of Music to Brigadoon , My Fair Lady , and Camelot , they wrote the book and lyrics for one glittering gem after another. Drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished manuscripts, lyrics, letters, and interviews, Stephen Citron's dual biography brings to life the strikingly different worlds of
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Overview

(Applause Books). Incomparable and unique in their ability to write both libretti and lyrics, Oscar Hammerstein and Alan Jay Lerner brought the musical theater to an artistic peak that remains unsurpassed. From Show Boat , Oklahoma! , and The Sound of Music to Brigadoon , My Fair Lady , and Camelot , they wrote the book and lyrics for one glittering gem after another. Drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished manuscripts, lyrics, letters, and interviews, Stephen Citron's dual biography brings to life the strikingly different worlds of Hammerstein and Lerner two remarkable artists who revolutionized musical theater. Citron's narrative brims with fascinating stories about these two master wordsmiths, sweeping readers along Hammerstein's roller-coaster career with its mixture of hits and flops contrasted sharply with Lerner's endless rewrites, eight marriages, and debilitating drug habits. Readers learn how Hammerstein and composer Richard Rodgers first wrote musicals together as undergraduates at Columbia University, then parted company for 20 years before reuniting to produce one smash hit after another. We also discover that the Loewe-Lerner team almost never made it past Brigadoon , due in part to Loewe's aspirations to become a serious composer and Lerner's chronic insecurities about his own talent. Along the way, we meet the century's greatest composers and actors including George Gershwin and Kurt Weill, Mary Martin and Rex Harrison whose transcendent melodies and showstopping performances combined with Hammerstein's and Lerner's words to leave an indelible mark on musical theater. Not only does Citron offer consummate analyses of his subjects' lyrics and probing insights into their plots and dialogue, he also provides a mini-reference packed with photographs of notable productions and of the artists themselves. The book also includes a complete list of works, an extensive bibliography, and a quintuple chronology of Hammerstein's and Lerner's lives in relation to events in the world and musical theater.

Drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished manuscripts, lyrics, letters and interviews, Stephen Citron's generous dual biography brilliantly brings to life the strikingly different worlds of Hammerstein and Lerner. From Showboat and Oklahoma! to Brigadoon and Camelot, these two remarkable artists revolutionized the musical theatre. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Highly entertaining and admirably comprehensive."--The Chicago Tribue

"Told with loving detail by that musical sleuth Stephen Citron, this is a great book about two great men. With forensic precision he has unearthed everything I wanted to know about my two heroes, and by doing so, has reminded the world of the magical legacy they left for all of us to relish."--Don Black, lyricist of Sunset Boulevard and Song and Dance

"Stephen Criton has the uncanny gift of being able to dissect the anatomy of a song without disturbing its soul."--Don Black, lyricist of Sunset Boulevard and Song and Dance

"Before I turn out the light, I thought, I'll read a chapter. At three A.M. the light was still on. Stephen Citron writes not just for lyricists interested in the craft of two boundless imaginations. His book time-travels the reader into the world and words of two masters creating for a musical theater whose moment will not be seen again."--Dory Previn, Academy Award-nominated lyricist

"A brilliant, perceptive, revealing analysis of the work and lives of two enduring poets of the theater, whose lyrics are literate and whose musical books are literature of the stage."--Jerome Lawrence, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and librettist (Inherit the Wind) and Mame)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781480386488
  • Publisher: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
  • Publication date: 9/22/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 1,386,942
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
Stephen Citron has long been a force in the American musical theater. Composer, lyricist, lecturer, and writer, he is the author of Songwriting, the standard reference on the subject; The Musical From Inside Out; and, most recently, Noel and Cole, the acclaimed dual biography of Noel Coward and Cole Porter.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2005

    A worthy book, but ....

    I recently finished reading this dual biography of Hammerstein and Lerner. My overall impression was that it was interesting and insightful. I would have given the book a higher rating except that the number of typographical and minor factual errors was a little more than I feel is appropriate. As an example, in the section descrbing Hammerstein's 'Allegro', the writer stated that the hero of the piece, Joseph Taylor, Jr., sings the number 'So Far' to a college co-ed. A look at the score or the libretto clearly indicates that it is, in fact, the opposite. The co-ed sings the song to Joe. This may sound a bit nit-picky, and I could forgive one or maybe even two errors like this. Unfortunately, the book gets a number of these details wrong.

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