Richard Charles Rodgers was born on Long Island, New York, on June 28, 1902. He was musical from childhood, playing the piano by ear at an early age, and composing music for amateur productions by the time he was fifteen.
He met his first collaborator, Lorenz Hart, while a freshman in college. Though they didn’t have the success Rodgers would have later with his second collaborator, they did compose memorable melodies, such as “Manhattan,” “Blue Moon,” “My Funny Valentine,” and “Isn’t it Romantic?”
After Hart died, Rodgers teamed up with Oscar Hammerstein II, and their careers took off. The two were responsible for such hits as Oklahoma, Carousel, The King and I, The Sound of Music, and South Pacific.
Biography.com has this to say about him: “Richard Rodgers was a pioneer in crafting what became the quintessential American musical, integrating stories from books and plays and creating seamless storytelling from speech to song. He also innovated the business end of show business, allowing writers to keep control of their creations. Rodgers won every major award possible in his field, and it is safe to say that at any point in time, one of his musicals is being reproduced somewhere in the world, and that someone is humming one of his famous songs.”
When they say ever major award, they are referring to Tonys, Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and two Pulitzer Prizes. Rodgers was among the first honorees of the newly created Kennedy Center Honors in 1978. There is also a theatre named after him on Broadway.
Quotes by Richard Rodgers
What’s wrong with sweetness and light? It’s been around quite awhile.–Richard Rodgers
Whenever I get an idea for a song, even before jotting down the notes, I can hear it in the orchestra, I can smell it in the scenery, I can see the kind of actor who will sing it, and I am aware of an audience listening to it.–Richard Rodgers
In many ways, a song-writing partnership is like a marriage. Apart from just liking each other, a lyricist and a composer should be able to spend long periods of time together – around the clock if need be – without getting on each other’s nerves.–Richard Rodgers
A song is a lot of things. But, first of all, a song is the voice of its time. Setting words to music gives them weight, makes then somehow easier to say, and it helps them to be remembered. It may be that that we can sing what we often cannot say, whether it be from shyness, fear, lack of the right words or the passion or dramatic gift to express them.–Richard Rodgers
If somebody wants to sing my songs after I’m gone, nobody will be happier than my dead body. –Richard Rodgers
I have to laugh to myself. I don’t find it work to write music, because I enjoy it. I’d find an evening of bridge hard work because you have to think like hell, and at the end, you get nothing for it.–Richard Rodgers
There isn’t anything I wanted to do that I haven’t. At the same time, there isn’t anything I’ve ever done that I didn’t want to do better.–Richard Rodgers
I don’t believe that a writer does something wonderful spontaneously. I believe it’s the result of years of living, of study, reading, his very personality and temperament. At one particular moment, all these come together and the artist ‘expresses’ himself.–Richard Rodgers
I would like, if I can, to broaden the possibilities of the musical theater. I think there’s a better ‘Oklahoma!’ someplace, a better ‘West Side Story.’ And I’d like to be mixed up in it.–Richard Rodgers
If a composer is to reach his audience emotionally – and surely that’s what theatre music is all about – he must reach the people through sounds they can relate to.–Richard Rodgers
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