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Arts & Culture
The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world. To listen to KPAC 88.3 FM, simply open the player in the gray ribbon at the top of this page and choose KPAC: Classical Music.

Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstein, and Mielziner

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Biography.com
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Unlike Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen, who wrote their songs with numerous collaborative lyricists, and not at all like Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, who preferred doing it all themselves, writing both the music and the words, Richard Rodgers was most comfortable, and most successful, when in partnership with another. Over the course of his long and storied career in musical theater and beyond, Rodgers enjoyed two important partnerships. He wrote almost exclusively with Lorenz Hart from 1918 until shortly before his death in 1943 and with Oscar Hammerstein II from 1942 until his death in 1960.

This week's Art of American Popular Song surveys Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and the rare instances of Rodgers Alone. But this week's video prelude explores one other important partnership, artistic rather than strictly musical, the many collaborations between Richard Rodgers and the set and lighting designer Jo Mielziner

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Credit Gift of Robert L. B. Tobin TL1999.200 / McNay Art Museum
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McNay Art Museum
Jo Mielziner: Drop design for Bali Ha'i Transformation in South Pacific 1948-49 Watercolor on paper

  According to Jody Blake, the curator of the current show at the McNay's Brown Gallery, “Broadway: 100 Years of Musical Theatre,” Mielziner was among the best and the busiest.

He was the preeminent designer of Broadway's Golden Age, through the 40s, 50s, and into the 60s.”

Within The Tobin Collection of Theatre Art are numerous sketches and designs for Mielziner’s important work, including the iconic design depicting the mystical island Bali Ha'i, from Rodgers and Hammerstein's “South Pacific.” See the design and hear about it from Jody Blake in the second part of this week's video prelude.

Jody will also talk about the other part of “Broadway: 100 Years of Musical Theatre,” the show called “LP to MP3: The Original Cast Recording.” Jo Mielziner figures into this discussion also, through the design for the 1950 “cast recording” of the Rodgers and Hart show “Pal Joey.” According to Jody Blake, “there's no doubt that [the album designer] went to the show and was attentive to the Jo Mielziner designs.”

Here are two videos, each about 10 minutes long, introducing not only this week's radio feature, “The Art of Richard Rodgers,” but also images of Mielziner’s work on “South Pacific” and the visual landmark, the design for the “Pal Joey” album cover.

 

American Popular Song, vol. 5

The Art of Richard Rodgers

 

  1. Three Faces of Richard Rodgers [12:53]

    1. Mimi (Skitch Henderson, NY Pops, Centaur 2501)

    2. Shall We Dance? (Lockhart, Boston Pops, RCA 63835)

    3. Bewitched (Ella Fitzgerald, Verve 533 262)

    4. Mountain Greenery (Bing Crosby, Verve 533 262)

    5. Oh! What a Beautiful Morning (Lockhart, Boston Pops, RCA 63835)

    6. Overture to Rex (Rodgers, Studio Orchestra, RCA 68933)

 

  1. Act I: Catching Fire 1925-1930 [14:02]

    1. Manhattan (Henderson, NY Pops, Centaur 2501)

    2. Manhattan (Upshaw, Hersch, Nonesuch 79406)

    3. With a Song in My Heart (Maureen McGovern, Centaur 2501)

    4. This Funny World (Mary Cleere Haran, Varese Saraband 5584)

    5. You Took Advantage of Me (Fitzgerald, Pass, Pablo 2310 772)

    6. I’ve Got Five Dollars (Morath, Morris, Bolcom, RCA 4676)

 

  1. Act I, scene 2: Hollywood [8:47]

    1. Isn’t It Romantic (Chevalier, Kino DVD 322)

    2. Isn’t It Romantic (Fitzgerald, Verve 533 262)

    3. Blue Moon (Torme, Verve 533 262)

 

  1. Act I, scene 3: Back on Broadway [18:16]

    1. My Funny Valentine (Baker, CTI 834)

    2. My Romance (Lanza, RCA 63254)

    3. The Most Beautiful Girl in the World (Short, Atlantic 81715)

    4. Slaughter on 10th Avenue (Fiedler, Boston Pops, RCA 68550)

    5. Thou Swell (Fitzgerald, Verve 2519)

    6. Out of My Dreams (Joan Roberts, Original Cast, MCA 10798)

    7. Surrey With the Fringe on Top (Dearie, Verve 517 223)

 

  1. Act II: Rodgers and Hammerstein [29:48]

    1. It’s a Grand Night for Singing (Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops, Telarc 80278)

    2. It Might as Well Be Spring (Haymes, MCA 10775)

    3. Soliloquy (Terfel, DG 449 163)

    4. If I Loved You (Jan Clayton, MCA 10799)

    5. You’ll Never Walk Alone (Terfel, DG 449 163)

    6. Bali Hai (Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops, Telarc 80278)

    7. Some Enchanted Evening (Pinza, CBS 60722)

    8. Honey Bun (Martin, CBS 60722)

    9. A Puzzlement (Yul Brynner, MCA 10049)

    10. Hello Young Lovers (Gertrude Lawrence, MCA 10049)

    11. My Favorite Things (Coltrane, Atlantic 1361)

 

  1. Act III: Rodgers Alone [5:32]

    1. Victory At Sea Selections (Kunzel, Cincinnati, Telarc 80175)

    2. Loads of Love (Shirley Horn, Mercury 843 454)

    3. It Never Entered My Mind (Oscar Peterson et al, Verve 533 262)