As creators of classic Broadway musicals such as Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were at the forefront of the great age of songwriting. Pioneering the new art form of serious musical plays, their song and dance numbers served to advance the drama and reveal character, constituting a sharp break from the past and creating the template on which all future musicals would be built.
Though often distant from each other personally, the two men together became cultural icons whose work largely defined post-war America on stage, screen, television, and radio. Even now, decades later, their classic songs retain their popularity and emotional power.
Speaker: Todd S. Purdum
Todd S. Purdum is a graduate of Princeton University, who is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and senior writer at Politico. He worked previously at The New York Times for 20 years, where he served as White House Correspondent, Diplomatic Correspondent, and Los Angeles bureau chief.
His publications include An Idea Whose Time Has Come and A Time of Our Choosing. In 2018 he published Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution, which attracted glowing reviews.
No less an authority than Harold Prince wrote that “Something Wonderful is a scrupulously researched and intimately fascinating history of the collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein—two giants who propelled the musical theater to uncharted heights.”
Alec Baldwin called the book “a piece of American history you should devour, as nothing tells us about our times and ourselves quite long like our songs.”
And James Kaplan, acclaimed biographer of Frank Sinatra, wrote that “Something Wonderful is a reminder in these tribalized times that musical theater, once so central to our culture, is still vividly alive—and that the art’s twin titans, Rodgers and Hammerstein, still matter deeply. Clear, precise, compassionate – this is a necessary book, and even better, one that is a joy to read.”