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There are many well-known lyricists and composers but only a few leave such a mark as Rodgers and Hammerstein This duo produced nine musical plays during their partnership and caused a profound change in musical comedy They set the standards that are followed to this day in musical history They created the modern musical that we all know and love Before they became Rodgers and Hammerstein they were simply Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II both of New York City Hammerstein born in 1895 was brought up in a theatrical family His father was an operatic impresario otherwise known as an opera director or manager He built the Harlem Opera House1888 and the Manhattan Opera House1906 and also introduced many new singers to the US From a very young age Hammerstein II committed to the theater even though his family discouraged him As soon as he was old enough to have a job in his fathers theatrical business he devoted himself to his duties and learned as much as he could about play production and the labors of the theater artist Oscar eventually teamed up with author Otto Harbach and composer Vincent Youmans to produce Wildflower With help from Harbach Hammerstein began to create professional material for Broadway Through Otto Harbach Hammerstein was led into collaboration with Jerome Kern for Sunday He also worked with Herbert Stothart and George Gershwin on Song of the Flame a very unsuccessful show But despite the shows failure it did lead Hammerstein to concentrate on creating operetta in order to integrate musical comedy with opera With this in mind he was able to achieve new standards for success in his career with his lyrics for The Wild Rose and The Desert Song By 1927 after a few more productions Hammerstein had achieved the technical skill that allowed him to provide a composer with a functional book and lyrics This was best shown in Showboat the first modern American musical
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