Biography of Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960)

Librettist and American playwright, born in New York in 1895 and died in his hometown in 1960. He was nephew of the American businessman of opera, of German origin, Oscar Hammerstein I, owner of the Manhattan Opera House.

The artistic atmosphere that breathed in their family environment from his childhood led him to guide their professional steps along the path of the composition of librettos for musical shows, genre that would become one of the most outstanding figures of his time. In fact, it soon became famous for his lyrics for comedies and operettas so applauded as Sunny (1924), Rose Marie (1924), The Desert Song (1926) and Showboat (1927).

At the beginning of the Decade of the 1940s, Oscar Hammerstein II decided to adapt to the musical genre the arguments of the novels and most successful theatrical comedies of the time, it was associated in 1942 that was called to consecrate herself as her best collaborator, Richard Rodgers. This close collaboration - that would last for seventeen years, until the death of Oscar Hammerstein II - began with a brilliant adaptation of Lynn Riggs, Green Grow the Lilacs, Assembly which was followed, a year later, Oklahoma!, which since its debut it harvested a success unprecedented in the history of Broadway and remained in poster for two thousand two hundred forty-eight consecutive performances. Both adapters were awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for this musical, which was seen by critics as a major breakthrough in the development of the genre in the United States of America.

So things, Rodgers and Hammerstein II discovered and exploited an inexhaustible gold mine that showed products so valuable (and so blockbuster) as Carousel (1945) and Allegro (1947), works which, despite everything, did not reach the heights of success that had traced Oklahoma!. But in 1949 both adapters led to the Broadway stage version of James A. Michener novel titled Tales of the South Pacific, narration awarded the Pulitzer in 1948, and two years later with the modality of this award that recognized the theatrical success, thanks to the staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein II. Again the public and the critics of Broadway were impressed by the ability for the musical genre exhibited by the two partners, which, in the middle of another resounding victory, had managed to seamlessly integrate the thorny topic of racial discrimination into the frivolous molds of the music-hall.

Of new successful returned to overwhelm to Oscar Hammerstein II in 1951, now through the held - together version, of course, with his inseparable Richard Rodgers - from the novel by Margaret Landon entitled Anna and the King of Siam, which King and premiered at the New York music scene under The title I (the King and I1951). It was the actor Yul Brynner , who, as later would do in the film version of the book, she played the male protagonist of the theatrical adaptation, in the midst of a massive influx of spectators that lasted their display for four thousand six hundred twenty-five performances.

In addition to the aforementioned musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein II signed the adapted libretti's other greatest hits of Broadway, some of which went to the big screen. Among many other titles, remember the bright mount, in 1944, of the work of John Van Druten I Remember Mama, in which a young interpreter of nineteen years of age (who had been rejected in an initial selection) called Marlon Brandomade his debut in tables. Likewise, both adapters created theatrical versions of Pipe Dream (1955), The Flower Drum Song (1958) and smiles and tears (1959).

In addition, Oscar Hammerstein II was the author of the lyrics to the famous song "The last time I saw Paris", to which the composer Jerome Kern put music for inclusion in the film Lady be godd. This song, by composer and lyricist were awarded an Oscar for Hollywood in 1941. Four years later, Hammersterin II would be awarded the statuette for best song, this time for the lyric of "It might as well be spring", one by his partner Richard Rodgers for the film life fair.

J. R. Fern√°ndez Cano