The Wordsmiths: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd and Alan Jay Lerner

by Stephen Citron

Incomparable and unique in their ability to write both libretti and lyrics, Oscar Hammerstein and Alan Jay Lerner brought the musical theater to an artistic peak that remains unsurpassed. From Show Boat, Oklahoma!, and The Sound of Music to Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, and Camelot, they wrote the book and lyrics for one glittering gem after another.

Drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished manuscripts, lyrics, letters, and interviews, Stephen Citron's dual biography brings to life the strikingly different worlds of Hammerstein and Lerner – two remarkable artists who revolutionized musical theater. Citron's narrative brims with fascinating stories about these two master wordsmiths, sweeping readers along Hammerstein's roller-coaster career with its mixture of hits and flops – contrasted sharply with Lerner's endless rewrites, eight marriages, and debilitating drug habits.

Readers learn how Hammerstein and composer Richard Rodgers first wrote musicals together as undergraduates at Columbia University, then parted company for 20 years before reuniting to produce one smash hit after another. We also discover that the Loewe-Lerner team almost never made it past Brigadoon, due in part to Loewe's aspirations to become a serious composer and Lerner's chronic insecurities about his own talent. Along the way, we meet the century's greatest composers and actors – including George Gershwin and Kurt Weill, Mary Martin and Rex Harrison – whose transcendent melodies and showstopping performances combined with Hammerstein's and Lerner's words to leave an indelible mark on musical theater.

Not only does Citron offer consummate analyses of his subjects' lyrics and probing insights into their plots and dialogue, he also provides a mini-reference packed with photographs of notable productions and of the artists themselves. The book also includes a complete list of works, an extensive bibliography, and a quintuple chronology of Hammerstein's and Lerner's lives in relation to events in the world and musical theater.

Publisher: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books

Series: Applause Books

Format: Softcover

Page Count: 464

Dimensions: 9.25 X 6.25 inches

ISBN: 9781480386488


Related Items