Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution

By Todd S. Purdum
Read by Todd S. Purdum

10.90 Hours 04/03/2018 unabridged
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A revelatory portrait of the creative partnership that transformed musical theater and provided the soundtrack to the American Century They stand at the apex of the great age of songwriting, the creators of the classic Broadway musicals Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, whose songs have never lost their popularity or emotional power. Even before they joined forces, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II had written dozens of Broadway shows, but together they pioneered a new art form: the serious musical play. Their songs and dance numbers served to advance the drama and reveal character, a sharp break from the past and the template on which all future musicals would be built. Though different in personality and often emotionally distant from each other, Rodgers and Hammerstein presented an unbroken front to the world and forged much more than a songwriting team; their partnership was also one of the most profitable and powerful entertainment businesses of their era. They were cultural powerhouses whose work came to define postwar America on stage, screen, television, and radio. But they also had their failures and flops, and more than once they feared they had lost their touch. Todd S. Purdum’s portrait of these two men, their creative process, and their groundbreaking innovations will captivate lovers of musical theater, lovers of the classic American songbook, and lovers in general. He shows that what Rodgers and Hammerstein wrought was truly something wonderful.

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Summary

Summary

A New York Times Editor’s Choice

An Amazon Best Book of the Month selection

A New York Times Pick of Refreshing New Books on Personal Relationships

An Amazon.com bestseller

A BookPage Book of the Day

A revelatory portrait of the creative partnership that transformed musical theater and provided the soundtrack to the American Century

They stand at the apex of the great age of songwriting, the creators of the classic Broadway musicals Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, whose songs have never lost their popularity or emotional power. Even before they joined forces, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II had written dozens of Broadway shows, but together they pioneered a new art form: the serious musical play. Their songs and dance numbers served to advance the drama and reveal character, a sharp break from the past and the template on which all future musicals would be built.

Though different in personality and often emotionally distant from each other, Rodgers and Hammerstein presented an unbroken front to the world and forged much more than a songwriting team; their partnership was also one of the most profitable and powerful entertainment businesses of their era. They were cultural powerhouses whose work came to define postwar America on stage, screen, television, and radio. But they also had their failures and flops, and more than once they feared they had lost their touch.

Todd S. Purdum’s portrait of these two men, their creative process, and their groundbreaking innovations will captivate lovers of musical theater, lovers of the classic American songbook, and lovers in general. He shows that what Rodgers and Hammerstein wrought was truly something wonderful.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Purdum has a smile in his voice as he recounts their extraordinary working relationship, detailing how Hammerstein would write the wonderful lyrics first and then send them to Rodgers, who would add the sparkling tunes…Listeners will want to sing along as Purdum reads the lyrics to some of the world’s most beloved melodies.” AudioFile
“Todd Purdum’s book is a piece of American history you should devour, as nothing tells us about our times and ourselves quite like our songs.” Alec Baldwin, award–winning actor and New York Times bestselling author
“I love the intimacy of the stories Todd Purdum tells—he shows himself to be especially sensitive to Oscar Hammerstein’s special connection with Richard Rodgers.” Carly Simon, singer–songwriter and New York Times bestselling author
“A neatly proportioned study…reminding us of the bold breadth of the business―in the broadest sense―of the Rodgers and Hammerstein partnership…[whose music] ventured sprawlingly across the planet, all day and deep into the night.” Wall Street Journal (lead review)
“This lively, evocative joint biography is thorough enough to be revealing and too distinguished to sound gossipy—even though, of course, it is. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s personal relationship was not especially close, but each man’s individual history had more than enough color. The stories of the shows…have already filled many books. They’re enough to burst the binding of this one.” New York Times
“Offers a fresh look at the milieu and circumstances that contributed to the creation of some of the musical theater’s greatest and most enduring treasures.” New York Times Book Review
“[An] affectionate tribute to the team that rewrote the rules for American musical theater…thoroughly researched and briskly written, seamlessly blending a chronological narrative of the productions with cogent analyses of their effect on American culture.” Washington Post
“Broadway magic if anything is, and Todd Purdum has given readers the most elaborate and entertaining exploration of that magic they’re ever likely to read.” Christian Science Monitor
“Purdum’s skillful dual biography…strips away the accretions of time and reputation to retrieve the craft and dynamism with which his subjects created a new kind of musical.” Economist (London)
"[A] delightful new book…Purdum has given readers the most elaborate and entertaining exploration of that magic they’re ever likely to read.” Christian Science Monitor
“Readers will learn the stories behind the music and how this most successful of writing duos crafted some of the finest musicals to grace the American stage…Something wonderful, indeed.” Booklist (starred review)
“Come backstage in Todd S. Purdum’s Something Wonderful as he introduces the musical stars and up-and-comers of the day—Mary Martin, Yul Brynner, Julie Andrews, and Gene Kelly, to name a few…Live the drama of opening nights, when anything could happen—and often did, from train wrecks to triumphant debuts. Discover the complexities of the duo’s very different personalities and their decades-long partnership…It’s all here in Purdum’s book. From describing the real-life moment that inspired ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ to detailing the drafts for ‘Edelweiss,’ Purdum has produced something wonderful indeed.” BookPage
“Purdum’s anecdote-filled account is a sterling primer on the influential duo, both for newcomers to their work and to those looking to rekindle an old flame.” Publishers Weekly
“This lively book will appeal to anyone who loves theater, songwriting, or biography.” Library Journal
“Joyous, brisk, and gossipy…An exuberant celebration of musical genius.” Kirkus Reviews
Something Wonderful is a scrupulously researched and infinitely fascinating history of the collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein—two giants who propelled the musical theater to uncharted heights…It is an impressive addition to the literature celebrating the American musical theater.” Hal Prince, Tony Award–winning theatrical producer
“A revelatory portrait…detailed and sharp.” Time

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Todd S. Purdum

Todd S. Purdum is the author of the nonfiction books Something Wonderful, An Idea Whose Time Has Come and A Time of Our Choosing. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a senior writer at Politico, having previously worked at the New York Times for more than twenty years, where he served as White House correspondent, diplomatic correspondent, and Los Angeles bureau chief. He is a graduate of Princeton University.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography
Runtime: 10.90
Audience: Adult
Language: English