A collection of the letters from and to American musical theater's greatest innovator that provides an entertaining look behind the scenes of Broadway
Oscar Hammerstein II virtually invented the modern American musical, first with Show Boat
and then in his celebrated collaborations with composer Richard Rodgers on Broadway classics like Oklahoma , Carousel
, and The King and I
that continue to fascinate audiences today. A brilliant lyricist and playwright, Hammerstein innovated the American musical with his sophisticated storytelling that single-handedly elevated musical theater to a serious art form. But there were many more sides to Hammerstein: He was also a canny businessman, a successful producer, a mentor to Stephen Sondheim, and a social activist.
This rich collection edited by Mark Eden Horowitz features hundreds of previously unpublished letters that show off all facets of Hammerstein's many engagements and his personality. Hammerstein's correspondence with major Broadway figures like Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Kern, and Josh Logan tells the history of twentieth-century American show business while his exchanges with politicians and activists shed light on social issues of the period. What unites these letters across their vast range of themes is Hammerstein's compelling voice that reveals a man who was sharp, opinionated, and funny but also cared deeply about addressing the social ills that his musicals explored beyond the stage.
Mark Eden Horowitz is Senior Music Specialist in the music division of the Library of Congress where he has been an archivist or co-archivist for the papers of Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers, Vernon Duke, Cole Porter, Frederick Loewe, Alan Jay Lerner, Leonard Bernstein and others. He is the author of the award-winning Sondheim on Music and served as the contributing editor for The Sondheim Review for ten years. He has taught the history of musical theatre at Georgetown and Catholic University.