Oscar Hammerstein II

Oscar Hammerstein II

Librettist, Lyricist


Biography


Oscar Greeley Clendenning Hammerstein II (July 12, 1895 – August 23, 1960) was a prolific American librettist, theatrical producer, and (often uncredited) theatre director of musicals for almost forty years. His collaborations with Jerome Kern and Richard Rodgers created many of America’s classic twentieth-century musicals.

Hammerstein was born in New York City in 1895 into a theatrical family. His grandfather, Oscar Hammerstein I, was responsible for creating some of the most influential opera houses, whilst his father managed a vaudeville theatre. His Uncle Arthur also produced Broadway shows. Hammerstein went on to study at Columbia University, where he met Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers. Hammerstein worked backstage as assistant stage manager through his Uncle’s connections and, in 1919, wrote his own play, The Light. Although it was not a success, he continued to write and found his forte as a librettist. In 1925 he teamed up with Jerome Kern and the result was Show Boat, which put the pair in the spotlight. They continued to collaborate and, in 1943 Hammerstein wrote the lyrics and book for an updated version of George Bizet’s Carmen, including an African-American cast.

Hammerstein teamed up next with Richard Rodgers, who had been writing with Lorenz Hart for several years. The pair produced many incredibly successful Broadway musicals including Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, The King and I, and Carousel. Their production of South Pacific earned the pair the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950.

One of the most prolific librettists of the twentieth-century, Hammerstein won eight Tony Awards and two Academy Awards for Best Original Song. He co-wrote 850 songs, many of which are frequently preformed today. In 1960, he lost his battle with stomach cancer and, in memory of an incredible man, the lights on Broadway were turned off on the evening of 1st September that year.


Shows by Oscar Hammerstein II

Title
Synopsis

The show chronicles nearly four decades in the life of an average American, Joseph Taylor, Jr., from cradle through a mid-life crisis and the knowledge of his wife's infidelity. Soon, however, he discovers who he is and the m... read more

In a Southern town during World War II, parachute maker Carmen Jones successfully seduces a soldier named Joe away from his fiancé. Soon, Carmen loses interest in Joe when she meets Husky Miller, a successful prize fighter... read more

Richard Rodgers once wrote that of all the musicals he wrote, Carousel was his personal favorite. This iconic American classic features some of the most powerful music ever written for the stage, including “If I Loved You”,... read more

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s enchanting adaptation of the timeless fairytale, Cinderella, was their only musical originally composed for television. When the television program, starring Julie Andrews as Cinderella, first aired... read more

The plot concerns a dashing rebel leader whose band of freedom fighters, the Riff, threaten the safety of a French outpost in the Moroccan desert. In reality, the Shadow is Pierre, unassuming son of French General Birabeau. M... read more

Set in the late 1950s, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song centers on naive immigrant, Mei-Li, who arrives in San Francisco's Chinatown, after fleeing communist China. The young refugee is befriended by Wang, who is st... read more

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I is a moving, radiant story of East meets West. It is the early 1860s when newly widowed Anna Leonowens and her son, Louis, set sail from their native England for Bangkok, Siam . Anna,... read more

‘Me and Juliet’ revolves around the inner mechanisms of a Broadway musical and two sets of lovers. The show-within-the-show is also titled "Me and Juliet" and stars famous literary heroes and heroines: Juliet, Don Juan, and C... read more

‘Me and Juliet’ revolves around the inner mechanisms of a Broadway musical and two sets of lovers. The show-within-the-show is also titled "Me and Juliet" and stars famous literary heroes and heroines: Juliet, Don Juan, and C... read more

Taking place in Bavaria, the show concerns Sieglinde, the daughter of a music teacher, and her lover Karl, the local schoolmaster. Karl and Sieglinde travel to Munich in order to try to get a song written by Walther and Karl... read more

The first collaboration of famed partners Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Oklahoma set the American musical theatre standard. Set in Western Indian Territory just after the turn of the 20th Century, the spirited riv... read more

"Pipe Dream" is a tale of hard times and star-crossed love on Cannery Row. The musical is populated with longshoremen and "ladies of the evening", who weave a poignant story of the friendship and romance that blossoms among t... read more

Taking place in the Canadian Rockies, ‘Rose Marie’ concerns the mysterious murder of Black Eagle, a villainous half-breed. The likely suspect is the wild and hard-drinking Jim Kenyon. However, after falling love with Rose Mar... read more

Taking place over fifty years, Show Boat tells the story of a family of performers living on a show boat, and their struggles with gambling, race, infidelity, and poverty. In the beginning of the show, Captain Andy runs extr... read more

The final collaboration between Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II, The Sound of Music, has become a play beloved around the world. Based on the true story of the Von Trapp Family Singers, this play captures a personal t... read more

Set against the dramatic background of an idyllic South Pacific island during WWII, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific intertwines the themes of romance, duty, and prejudice to create a story that is all at once hilariou... read more

Originally based on Phil Strong’s novel of the same name, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair was the only musical they wrote directly for feature film. In 1995, this romantic story set in America’s heartland was adapted fo... read more

‘Sunny’ is a love story focusing on three couples. Sunny is trying to escape a forced marriage with Mr. Wendell-Wendell and stows away on a ship heading to New York. On the ship, Tom is traveling with his fiancée Marcia. Real... read more

Overview

Nationality
USA
Born
7/25/1895
Died
8/23/1960
Show Categories
Musical
Genres
Drama, Romance, Comedy, Fairy Tale/Fantasy, Dark Comedy, Historical/Biographical

Clips