Cover image for The Richard Rodgers reader
The Richard Rodgers reader
Block, Geoffrey Holden, 1948-
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xii, 356 pages : illustrations, music ; 25 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.R6315 R52 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Richard Rodgers was one of America's most prolific and best-loved composers. A world without "My Funny Valentine," "The Lady is a Tramp," "Blue Moon," and "Bewitched," to name just a few of the songs he wrote with Lorenz Hart, is scarcely imaginable, and the musicals he wrote with his secondcollaborator, Oscar Hammerstein--Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music--continue to enchant and entertain audiences. Arranged in four sections, Rodgers and Hart (1929-1943), Rodgers and Hammerstein (1943-1960), Rodgers After Hammerstein (1960-1979), and The Composer Speaks (1939-1971), The Richard Rodgers Reader offers a cornucopia of informative, perceptive, and stylish biographical and critical overviews.It also contains a selection of Rodgers's letters to his wife Dorothy in the 1920s, the 1938 Time magazine cover story and New Yorker profiles in 1938 and 1961, and essays and reviews by such noted critics as Brooks Atkinson, Eric Bentley, Leonard Bernstein, Lehman Engel, Walter Kerr, KenMandelbaum, Ethan Mordden, George Jean Nathan, and Alec Wilder. The volume features personal accounts by Richard Adler, Agnes de Mille, Joshua Logan, Mary Martin, and Diahann Carroll. The collection concludes with complete selections from more than thirty years of Rodgers's own writings on topicsranging from the creative process, the state of the Broadway theater, even Rodgers's bout with cancer, and a generous sample from the candid and previously unpublished Columbia University interviews. For anyone wishing to explore more fully the life and work of a composer whose songs and musicals have assumed a permanent--and prominent--place in American popular culture, The Richard Rodgers Reader will offer endless delights.

Author Notes

Geoffrey Block is Professor of Music History at the University of Puget Sound. The author of Enchanted Evenings (OUP 1997) and three books on Charles Ives, he is now completing a book on Richard Rodgers's Broadway career.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Rodgers (1902-79) formula for success as a composer of theater music was «don't have a formula,» bolstered by the corollary, «don't follow it up.» Hence, while his first collaborating lyricist, Lorenz Hart (1895-1943), usually set clever, surprising rhymes to his tunes, second partner Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960) provided lyrics for him to set. Editor Block drew on biographies, memoirs, letters, essays on the musical theater, theatrical criticism, and interviews to amass this collection. Rodgers' wife, Dorothy, and daughter, Mary, provide family perspectives. Hammerstein, director Joshua Logan, actresses Mary Martin and Diahann Carroll, and composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein speak about working with Rodgers. Gerald Mast, Ethan Mordden, Eric Bentley, and David Ewen analyze Rodgers' musical theater. Walter Kerr, Brooks Atkinson, and Cleveland Amory voice critical perspectives from the audience, and Rodgers' writings complete the package. Aside from repetition of facts and anecdotes, this reader depicts Rodgers as methodical, versatile, outgoing, and a family man--«the most successful, productive, diverse, and influential American composer for the musical stage of the twentieth century.» Alan Hirsch.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) was not only the composer of 1940s and '50s Broadway musicals like Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music (all in collaboration with Oscar Hammerstein II), but also the melodist for the witty, tender lyrics of Lorenz Hart in beloved songs like "My Funny Valentine," "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "Blue Moon." Block, a music theory and history professor at the University of Puget Sound and a composer of musicals himself, divides this survey of writings on Rodgers into four sections: "Rodgers and Hart (1929-1943)," "Rodgers and Hammerstein (1943-1960)," "Rodgers After Hammerstein (1960-1979)" and "The Composer Speaks (1939-1971)." The collection includes excerpts from recent scholarly works by musicologist Allen Forte and lyrics expert Philip Furia, as well as some letters from Rodgers to his wife, Dorothy, in the 1920s; contemporary commentary by theater critics like Eric Bentley; and reminiscences by performers who worked with Rodgers, such as Diahann Carroll. Block may overdo his enthusiasm about some of the more banal contributions, like the clichd entry by performer Mary Martin, but he also includes strong, entertaining pieces by informed music writers like Joshua Logan, Brooks Atkinson and George Jean Nathan. Rodgers's own tight-lipped comments paint a portrait of the man as vividly as anything else in this book. Good for serious performing arts readers, although a few pages of musicological analysis may be over the heads of some Broadway babies. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

For this book, Block (music history, Univ. of Puget Sound; Enchanted Evenings) has assembled fascinating pieces of writing about the popular American composer of Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music. While not strictly a biography, it is divided into four chronological parts: "Rodgers and Hart," "Rodgers and Hammerstein," "Rodgers After Hammerstein," and "The Composer Speaks." Among the pieces included are a Time magazine story (Rodgers and Hart made the cover in 1938); a profile from The New Yorker; reminiscences by Rodgers's wife; a piece by longtime collaborator Oscar Hammerstein; an unflattering account of Rodgers from actress and singer Diahann Carroll's autobiography; classic criticism by Alec Wilder, Walter Kerr, and Leonard Bernstein; and other writings by those who knew Rodgers or wrote about the American musical theater. Music examples are provided throughout. Much of the best writing on Rodgers and his music is included here, though Meryle Secrest's recent Somewhere for Me: A Biography of Richard Rodgers is not represented. The most valuable contribution (and also the longest) is a never-before-published excerpt from an interview with Rodgers around 1968. A fine combination of anecdote, music criticism, and biography, this is recommended for all libraries interested in American popular culture and American musical theater.--Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ., Kingsville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.