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drsax61

Oscar Hammerstein II and Lrics that relate

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I have been a admirer of Musicals, both movie and Broadway for most of my life.  In college I was enlightened to the fact it was Oscar Hammerstein II that started the trend to write lyrics that were inclusive to the plot and moved the story forward.  Show Boat with Jerome Kern was the first musical which had lyrics that were essential to the plot of the show.  Later it was the trademark of the the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that each song was integrated in the story, starting with Oklahoma.  Not to lessen the craft or beauty of say Cole Porter,  Each R and H song added shades to the palette of the picture painted in that musical.  Previously, most musicals had great tunes just inserted to break up the story. Example, from Kiss Me Kate where the song Wunderbar is introduced as two lovers reminiscing about their past life and meeting at a bar, the Wunderbar.

     Hammerstein was key in writing lyric to move the story forward. He always championed the role of lyricist during his lifetime.  At the opening night party of Show Boat, admiring throngs applauded Kern and Hammerstein as they entered the party.  The crowd yelled to hear "That great new Kern song, Old Man River again."  As the crowd started to buzz, Mrs. Hammerstein was noted to say loudly, No, Let's hear that great new Kern song, Dum dum da dum".  Hammerstein was the muse of most who wrote lyric after him.

     

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I'm very happy to see Oscar Hammerstein receive the credit and attention he deserves. He may be the single most important figure in the development of the musicals. I know the instructors only have a limited time, but I would like some focus on the writers of musicals and how theatrical musicals affected the development of film musicals.

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