OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II
Following the back-to-back blockbusters OKLAHOMA! (1943) and CAROUSEL (1945), the public routinely came to expect miracles from the magical team of Rodgers & Hammerstein. The Pulitzer Prize winning SOUTH PACIFIC (1949) and THE KING & I (1951) bore out their audiences’ already impossibly high expectations. CINDERELLA (1957 TV Special) and FLOWER DRUM SONG (1958) were more moderate successes, but their final effort, THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1959), presented shortly before Hammerstein’s death in 1960, was perhaps their most commercially successful work.
The major motion picture versions of their plays(and the original film musical STATE FAIR in 1945) only continue to add luster to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s legendary status with each new generation of movie musical lovers. Nearly 80 years after OKLAHOMA!’s premiere, hardly a day goes by that somewhere in the world there is not a live stage revival of one or another of these musical theatre classics. Rodgers & Hammerstein were two theatrical craftsmen intent on creating musical plays where characters sang their dialogue without losing their audiences rapt attention. Needless to say, they succeeded on a grander scale than even they could imagine.
Finally there are The Songs: “Oklahoma!,” “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “I Cain’t Say No,” “Out of My Dreams,” “If I Loved You,” “What’s the Use of Wond’rin’,” “Soliloquy,” “It Might As Well Be Spring,” “It’s A Grand Night For Singing,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Younger Than Springtime,” “A Wonderful Guy,” “This Nearly Was Mine,” “Bali Hai,” “I Whistle A Happy Tune,” “Hello, Young Lovers,” “Getting To Know You,” “Shall We Dance?” “Do Re Mi,” “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things,” “Climb Every Mountain,” “Edelweiss” . . .THE reasons why Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II remain among the most revered creative artists of the twentieth century.
If you would like to engage Fred Miller for one of his Lectures-in-Song, please contact him directly at any time. For a full listing of all Lectures, click here.
Fred Miller’s Lectures-In-Song comprise a series of solo programs, each an historical, anecdotal and musical profile of some great personality or important aspect of American Popular Song. These Lectures are delivered by singer/pianist/narrator Miller at the piano, and each reflects his lifetime passion and appreciation for great music. He studied classical piano in his hometown of Albuquerque from ages 7-15 but early on gave up any notion of music as a profession. At that time, Fred assumed a musical career was either one devoted to the rigid discipline of classical music or being a freewheeling rock star, and he accurately decided he had no aptitude for either. However, at age 22, upon hearing Ella Fitzgerald sing Cole Porter, he found his calling and life’s mission.
Through the Seventies and Eighties, Miller studied and absorbed in minute detail the life and times and songs of nearly all the great American composers and lyricists who thrived during Broadway & Hollywood’s Golden Age between the two World Wars. In 1987, he founded Silver Dollar Productions in order to produce operettas, dramas, musicals and small cabarets. Silver Dollar Productions required ensemble casts, props, costumes and, most significantly, the challenges of publicity and selling tickets, and for a dozen busy years, the company presented an unbroken string of varied and highly lauded performances.
In 1999, Miller was simultaneously underwritten by both his local Hunterdon County Library and the Art Alliance of Philadelphia to present a series of six solo Lectures-In-Song, each devoted to one of the premiere Broadway/Hollywood songwriters: George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen.
In presenting history, biography and psychology while sitting at a piano singing the superlative songs of his heroes, Miller has found a single performing medium that utilizes most of his intellectual and musical passions.The list of Lectures-In-Song that began with six in 1999 is now more than seventy(and growing!), a joyful tribute to the boundlessly rich field of American Popular Song.