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Oscar Hammerstein II

Oscar Greeley Clendinning Hammerstein II

Librettist, Lyricist, Producer

(1895 - 1960)

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Oscar Hammerstein II , whose family included a theater owner, a producer, and an opera impresario, attended Columbia law school before embarking on a career as librettist/lyricist. He is second only to Irving Berlin in the number of lyrics he created. Hammerstein had his first Broadway success with the operetta, Rose Marie (1924) with co-lyricist Otto Harbach and composers Rudolf Friml and Herbert Stothart. Two more operettas followed, both with Harbach and composer Sigmund Romberg: The Desert Song (1926) and The New Moon (1928).

He adapted the Edna Ferber novel, Showboat (1927), for the stage and wrote lyrics for Jerome Kern’s music. The show’s racially mixed cast, its theme of miscegenation, and its songs, which define each character, were anything but traditional Broadway fare. Despite production problems the show produced a host of hit songs.

Even a failed film in 1937 produced the lovely “I’ll Take Romance” written by Ben Oakland. The 1939 Broadway show Very Warm for May, with music by Kern, featured the perennial favorite, “All the Things You Are.” In 1940 Hammerstein wrote the lyrics for “The Last Time I Saw Paris” as the Nazis occupied Paris. Kern supplied the music.

In 1943 Hammerstein teamed with Richard Rodgers on Oklahoma! for which they won a Pulitzer Prize. The musical paved the way for serious subject matters to become part of musical theater, and the show’s ballet, choreographed by Agnes De Mille, ushered in a new era of dance. The film State Fair (1945) won an Oscar for “It Might as Well Be Spring.” As the most successful team on Broadway, they won a second Pulitzer for South Pacific in 1949 and saw many of their shows translated to film--The King and I (1951), Carousel (1945), Flower Drum Song (1958), and The Sound of Music (1959).

- Sandra Burlingame

The New Moon (2003 Encores! Revival Concert Cast)

Christiane Noll, Sigmund Romberg

Showboat; Broadway Musical Series

Various Artists

Very Warm For May: A Musical Comedy

Eve Arden, Jack Whiting, Hiram Sherman, Frances Mercer, Tony Martin

All the Things You Are

Sonny Rollins

Pure Ella:The Very Best of Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald Includes "All the Things You Are"

I'll Take Romance

Susannah McCorkle

Last Time I Saw Paris

Barry Harris Trio

It Might as Well Be Spring

Ike Quebec

Flower Drum Song

(2002 Broadway Revival Cast)

Carmen Jones

(1943 Original Broadway Cast)
Reading and Viewing

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Hugh Fordin, Stephen Sondheim

Getting to Know Him: A Biography of Oscar Hammerstein II

Da Capo Press

Oscar Hammerstein

Lyrics by Oscar HammersteinII

Hal Leonard Corporation

Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein

The Rodgers and Hammerstein Collection

Hal Leonard Corporation

Gordon MacRae, Gloria Grahame

Oklahoma! (1955)


Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor

South Pacific (1958)


Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer

The Sound of Music (1965)


Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews

State Fair (1945)


Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Rita Moreno

The King and I (50th Anniversary Edition)

20th Century Fox


Various Artists

The Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection [Remastered] (The Sound of Music / The King and I / Oklahoma! / South Pacific / State Fair / Carousel)

20th Century Fox


Kathryn Grayson, Gordon MacRae, Steve Cochran, Raymond Massey, Dick Wesson

The Desert Song

Warner Home Video


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