Richard Rodgers
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Richard Rodgers was the next giant of American pop music after Irving Berlin. With lyricist Lorenz Hart he composed a number of Broadway hits: the revue Garrick Gaieties (1925), that already included one of Rodgers' memorable melodies, Manhattan; Dearest Enemy (1925), their first musical, that included Here In My Arms; The Girl Friend (1926), with The Blue Room; A Connecticut Yankee (1927), the musical with the romantic My Heart Stood Still and Thou Swell that launched the star of William Gaxton; Spring Is Here (1929), including With A Song In My Heart; Ever Green (1931), with Dancing on the Ceiling; Isn't It Romantic? (1932) and Lover (1932), written for Hollywood movies; Blue Moon (1934), written for a film and originally titled The Bad In Every Man; Jumbo (1935), a circus-like show that was highlighted by The Most Beautiful Girl in the World and My Romance; On Your Toes (1936), a musical that included Rodgers' instrumental ballet Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, choreographed by George Balanchine, besides There's A Small Hotel; Babes In Arms (1937), one of Rodgers' greatest achievements as far as; tunes go (My Funny Valentine, Where Or When, Johnny One Note, The Lady is a Tramp); The Boys From Syracuse (1938), based on Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors and including This Can't Be Love and Falling in Love With Love; Too Many Girls (1939), with You're Nearer, Give It Back to the Indians and I Didn't Know What Time It Was; Pal Joey (1940), one of his most innovative works (considered the first musical about an anti-hero), with Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered and I Could Write A Book, and finally By Jupiter (1942), with Wait Till You See Her, after which Hart, a chronic alcoholic, left the stages.

Rodgers found a new partner in Oscar Hammerstein II, a veteran of Jerome Kern and Sigmund Romberg. Together they crafted Oklahoma (1944), a daring musical (based on Lynn Riggs's play "Green Grow the Lilacs") that did not rely on gags or girls or catchy melodies (even if it had Oh What A Beautiful Morning, People Will Say We're in Love, Boys And Girls Like You And Me), but on a "dramatic" story and "dramatic" characters (the songs were monologues and dialogues, not just lyrics), a musical that employed avantgarde dancers (choreographed by Agnes DeMille) instead of chorus girls (and whose dancing numbers were about the story and not mere stage effects). It was also the first musical ever recorded in its entirety on an LP. Their subsequent musicals created one of the largest repertory of American melodies as part of a series of popular musicals: Carousel (1945), almost an opera (based on Ferenc Molnar's drama Liliom), with If I Loved You, You'll Never Walk Alone, When The Children Are Asleep and another creative choreography by Agnes DeMille; Allegro (1947), Rodgers' most experimental work, a melodic fantasia, rather than a simple sequence of songs, that peaked with The Gentleman Is A Dope; South Pacific (1949), another of their artistic peaks, with Younger Than Springtime, Bali Hi and Some Enchanted Evening; The King and I (1951), with Whistle a Happy Tune, Something Wonderful, We Kiss In A Shadow, I Have Dreamed and Hello Young Lovers; Cinderella (1957), with Ten Minutes Ago and Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?; Flower Drum Song (1958), with Love Look Away, I Enjoy Being a Girl, and You Are Beautiful; and the immensely successful The Sound of Music (1959), whose album charted for seven years, with Something Good, Climb Every Mountain, My Favorite Things, Do Re Mi, Edelweiss. One of Rodgers' greatest achievements was the soundtrack for a series of 26 television documentaries celebring the USA Navy, Victory at Sea (1952), that yielded the orchestral melodies of Guadalcanal March, The Pacific Boils Over, Hard Work and Horseplay, Fiddlin' Off Watch, Beneath The Southern Cross. Rodgers' and Hammerstein's musicals crystallized an American view of the world, that relied on traditional moral values and faith in the USA as a paradise on Earth.

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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