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Conversations With Two Legends Of The American Musical Theatre: Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II
Tony Thomas Rodgers & Hammerstein, Oscar Hammerstein II
Conversations With Two Legends Of The American Musical Theatre: Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II
Genres: Special Interest, R&B, Classical, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (2) - Disc #1


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For musical aficionados, but several missed opportunities
albertatamazon | East Point, Georgia USA | 12/07/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)

"One of the finest results of the CD revolution is that it has spurred some adventurous record companies to reissue recordings that otherwise might have been forgotten, and among them are rare collector's items like this. This album documents what are probably the only recorded interviews on CD with the most celebrated composing and writing team of the American musical theatre, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It is an incredible opportunity to spend an hour with the creators of such classic musicals as "Oklahoma!", "Carousel", "South Pacific", "The King and I" and "The Sound of Music". (The Hammerstein interview was, poignantly enough, recorded only a few months before his death, and Hammerstein knew he was dying, but he shows no signs of illness whatsoever when he speaks.) This is, however, an album for musical theatre aficionados only. There are no excerpts from any of the shows, and the interviews may become boring if there are too many repeated hearings. However, interviewer Tony Thomas sadly is not at his best. He does not seem to know what kinds of questions to ask. He does not take the opportunity to ask either Rodgers or Hammerstein the obvious questions--how they made their creative decisions in writing their shows, how they came to discard some well-established musical theatre formulas of the day and create a style of musical which had so much impact that it practically forced every other creator of musical shows to "adopt" a similar style, and so on. He barely mentions Hammerstein's work with composer Jerome Kern, including the landmark 1927 musical "Show Boat", totally ignoring the fact that "Show Boat" had, for its time, a rather shocking storyline involving interracial marriage, and that Hammerstein did not shy away from subjects which were then considered taboo in the musical theatre. Instead, interviewer Thomas wastes about a quarter of his time with Hammerstein getting him to--of all things--recite his own lyrics! And he completely ignores what is universally considered Hammerstein's greatest lyric, "Ol' Man River", from "Show Boat".Still, this is a valuable recording to have, if only to be able to hear the voices of Rodgers and Hammerstein in interviews."
Nice piece of history
albertatamazon | 12/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"These are two separate interviews of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein that were done just months before Hammerstein's death. To set the stage for this time-wise, the stage version of "The Sound of Music" had just recently opened. R&H had behind them a series of plays that had already reached legendary status: "Oklahoma!", "South Pacific", "Carousel," and "The King and I." Yet they also had some plays that were either flops or only so-so. In these separate interviews, you'll hear Rodgers and Hammerstein explain their crafts, how they work, why they think some plays or songs worked, why others didn't. These men were at the top of their craft at the time of these interviews, perhaps prompting the interviewer to call them "Mister Rodgers" and "Mister Hammerstein," and never "Dick" or "Oscar." The stature of these men hangs over the interviews. Times have changed since the date these interviews were made, hence Richard Rodgers skirts the question when he's asked why he thinks Larry Hart never married. He never says it was because he was gay. It makes you want to call into question, perhaps, some of the veracity of Rodgers' other answers, but my hunch is, for the most part, he is being accurate. He also takes issue with the interviewer for calling him a "businessman," which is somewhat amusing since Rodgers was known for his business acumen, a role that Hammerstein never embraced.Personally, I think the interview with Hammerstein could have been a little more far-reaching, but he does give some very fascinating thoughts on the creative process.When you realize this is one of the rare opportunities anyone ever had for a lengthy recorded interview with Rodgers and Hammerstein, (each interview is, more or less 30:00) you realize the value of this information for scholars of their art form. Invaluable information for any student of Rodgers and Hammerstein, composing, theatrical writing, or writing of any type for that matter."