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Creator / Rodgers and Hammerstein

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Rodgers on the left, Hammerstein on the right.

"I know the world is filled with troubles and many injustices. But reality is as beautiful as it is ugly. I think it is just as important to sing about beautiful mornings as it is to talk about slums. I just couldn't write anything without hope in it."
Oscar Hammerstein II

Rodgers and Hammerstein were an American songwriting team consisting of composer Richard Rodgers (June 28, 1902 — December 30, 1979) and lyricist/scriptwriter Oscar Hammerstein II (July 12, 1895 — August 23, 1960). Together they earned 34 Tonys, 15 Academy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and two Grammys, making them EGOTs (winners of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony). Rodgers was the first-ever EGOT, and he, along with Marvin Hamlisch, have been the only EGOTs to win those 4 prizes and a Pulitzer. Hammerstein is also the only Oscar to ever win an Oscar.

As the quote above indicates, their shows are well on the idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism; despite often dealing with serious topics (racism in South Pacific, sexual harassment in Oklahoma!, spousal abuse in Carousel), they're a by-word for perky, heart-warming, optimistic musicals. However, at the time, their musicals were revolutionary for making sure all songs and dances were directly related to the plot, for having more in-depth character development than most of the musicals that preceded them, and for using scenic design as an integral part of the storytelling; they were so successful, and so widely imitated, that they are considered the Trope Codifiers for modern musicals.

Before their creative partnership began, both had been involved in earlier collaborations; Rodgers was acclaimed for his work with Lorenz Hart, while Hammerstein co-wrote Show Boat (arguably the first modern musical, and written in a style which foreshadowed the work of this duo) with composer Jerome Kern. Rodgers and Hammerstein also produced most of their own musicals and sometimes produced other people's work, including Annie Get Your Gun, I Remember Mama (which Rodgers helped musicalize much later) and the Helen Hayes-starring play Happy Birthday (for which they wrote one song).

Oscar Hammerstein mentored Stephen Sondheim as a young man and was a formative influence on him (Sondheim has said that "if Oscar was a geologist, I would have been a geologist"). Rodgers' daughter Mary became a successful composer in her own right with her biggest success being Once Upon a Mattress, while her son Adam Guettel is the composer/lyricist of such musicals as The Light in the Piazza. Compare Lerner and Loewe, another theatrical songwriting/composing duo of the mid-20th century.

Their musicals were Broadway shows, with two exceptions that later received Screen to Stage Adaptations: