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"I know the world is filled with troubles and many injustices. But reality is as beautiful as it is ugly. I think it is just as important to sing about beautiful mornings as it is to talk about slums. I just couldn't write anything without hope in it."
—Oscar Hammerstein II
American songwriting team consisting of Richard Rodgers (1902-1979, composer) and Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960, lyricist). Together they earned 34 Tonys, 15 Academy Awards, a Pulitzer and two Grammys. As the quote above indicates, their shows were well on the "idealist" end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism; despite often dealing with serious topics (racism in South Pacific, sexual harassment in Oklahoma!, spousal abuse in Carousel), they're a by-word for perky, heart-warming, optimistic musicals.
Before their creative partnership began, both had been involved in earlier collaborations; Rodgers was acclaimed for his work with Lorenz Hart, while Hammerstein co-wrote Show Boat (arguably the first modern musical, and written in a style which foreshadowed the work of this duo) with composer Jerome Kern.
Curiously, Oscar Hammerstein knew Stephen Sondheim as a young man and was a formative influence on him (Sondheim has said that "if Oscar was a geologist, I would have been a geologist").
Best known for their Broadway musicals:
- State Fair (originally a movie)
- South Pacific
- The King and I
- Me And Juliet
- Pipe Dream
- Cinderella (originally written for television)
- Flower Drum Song
- The Sound of Music