The Complete Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2008-11-25
  • Publisher: Knopf
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The sixth volume in Knopf's critically acclaimed Complete Lyrics series contains the text to more than 850 songs by the preeminent musical dramatist of the twentieth century. Oscar Hammerstein II's body of work ranged from the operettas of the twenties and thirties through the golden era of the Broadway and Hollywood musicals of the forties and fifties. With Jerome Kern he wrote eight musicals, includingShow Boat. In 1943 he joined forces with Richard Rodgers, and together they created the most successful partnership in the American musical theater.Oklahoma!,the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, was followed byCarousel,the movieState Fair, Allegro, South Pacific, The King and I, Me and Juliet, Pipe Dream,the TV musicalCinderella, Flower Drum Song,andThe Sound of Music. "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" . . . "Ol' Man River" . . . "Getting to Know You" . . . "Do-Re-Mi" . . . "The Last Time I Saw Paris" . . . "All the Things You Are" . . . "You'll Never Walk Alone" . . . "ShallWe Dance?" . . . "Some Enchanted Evening" . . . "My Favorite Things" . . . "It Might as Well Be Spring" . . . these 850 songs, the whole of Hammerstein's career, are works of lyrical beauty and universal feelingand each is an essential part of our national fabric.

Author Biography

Amy Asch, an archivist and researcher, worked with Robert Kimball on The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin and the 1995 expanded The Complete Lyrics of Lorenz Hart. Currently an editor of the Playbill Broadway Yearbook, she lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Random reflections by Alice
Editor's note
Songs of 1916-1919p. 1
Songs of 1920p. 11
Songs of 1921-1922p. 28
Songs of 1923p. 36
Rose-Marie 1924p. 52
Songs of 1925p. 61
Songs of 1926-1927p. 78
Show Boat 1927p. 99
Rainbow 1928; The New Moon 1928p. 120
Sweet Adeline 1929p. 145
Songs of 1930p. 152
Songs of 1931p. 159
Music in the Air 1932p. 183
Ball at the Savoy 1933p. 191
Three Sisters 1934p. 200
Songs of 1935p. 210
Songs of 1936-1937p. 222
Songs of 1938p. 229
Very Warm for May and Other Songs of 1939p. 241
American Jubilee 1940 and War Songs of 1940-1945p. 251
Sunny River 1941 and Other Songs of the Early 1940sp. 261
Oklahoma! 1943p. 277
Carmen Jones 1943p. 289
Carousel 1945p. 309
State Fair 1945 and Songs of 1946p. 319
Allegro 1947p. 324
South Pacific 1949p. 334
The King and I 1951 and Other Songs of the Early 1950sp. 346
Me and Juliet 1953p. 358
Pipe Dream 1955p. 368
Cinderella 1957p. 379
Flower Drum Song 1958p. 385
The Sound of Music 1959p. 393
Undated Lyricsp. 401
Indexp. 405
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.


Songs of 1916–1925

Shakespeare Up-to-Date

Oscar Hammerstein II’s first known lyric was a tercentenary tribute to the Bard (d. 1616) interpolated into The Peace Pirates, the Columbia University Varsity Show of 1916.

Music probably by Ray Perkins. Published in a limited edition piano-vocal score. Introduced by principals and chorus.


In my youthful college days
I read all of Shakespeare’s plays
FromHenry VIII to Taming of the Shrew.
I’ve seen almost ev’ry one
Of the plays that Shaw has done,
And can’t find much resemblance in the two.
But strange to say I had an awful dream the other night.
I woke to see this weird unusual sight:


Oh there was Romeo and Imogen parading around the room.
Lady Macbeth was getting married with Hamlet as the groom.
Then Juliet and Lear were playing cards
While Portia was keeping score.
Now this may all seem wrong to you
But I’m sure it would be true
If George Bernard Shaw had but written
Some of Bill Shakespeare’s plays.


Once a friend remarked to me,
How great would the profit be
To put some music to Bill Shakespeare’s shows.
I have hunted all around,
There’s a man that I have found
Could do the job as ev’rybody knows.
Just fancy George M. Cohan in a music comedy
For this is how his stunt would doubtless be:


Henry VIII would wave a flag and sing “Hooray for the U.S.A.”
Shylock would seek his pound of flesh in a patriotic way.
Then Cleopatra might be seen in tights
Or dancing with Romeo.
Now this may all seem wrong to you
But I’m sure it would be true
If George Cohan had ever produced
Some of Bill Shakespeare’s plays.

Home, James (1917)

New York run: Hotel Astor, Grand Ballroom; opened March 28, 1917; 5 performances. A musical comedy in two acts, presented by the Columbia University Players under the management of Charles Steiner, class of ’17. Book and lyrics by Herman A. Axelrod, ’15, and Oscar Hammerstein II, ’18L. Music by Robert K. Lippmann, ’19. Additional music and lyrics by Kenneth S. Webb, ’06; Roy Webb, ’10; M. S. Wolff, ’15; Robert A. Simon, ’18; Frank Padwe, ’16; Edgar Wolfe, ’20; Cyril S. Laub, ’18; and G. M. Watts, ’17. Staged under the direction of Kenneth S. Webb. Orchestra under the direction of Roy Webb, ’10. Orchestrations by Roy Webb.

Major roles: John D. Beals Jr., ’17 (Gideon Guiness); Randolph M. Saville, ’18 (Steve Guiness, his son); James D. Herbert, ’19 (the Red Rose Girl); Phillip B. Leavitt, ’18 (Marion Gay, Steve’s sweetheart); Ormond V. Gould, ’17 (Lucius Vodka, a mysterious personage); Oscar Hammerstein II, ’18L (Armand Dubonnet, head waiter at Roget’s); H. William Hanemann, ’17 (Emma Guiness, Gideon’s better 99/100); Louis C. Owens Jr., ’20 (Vivienne, her daughter).

Except as detailed below, the lyrics were preserved in a lavish program-libretto and in a smaller pamphlet of lyrics. The program advertises a vocal score, but none of the music is known to survive. A song list published in theColumbia Daily Spectator, March 9, 1917, includes the title “What’s This Old World Coming To?” by Axelrod, Hammerstein and Lippmann, to be performed in act two by the character Lucius Vodka; that song has not been found.

Hammerstein played the leading comic role in the show, and after one of the matinees he received congratulations from fraternity brother Mortimer Rodgers and Rodgers’ musical younger brother, Richard.


Lyric by Oscar Hammerstein II and Herman Axelrod. Introduced by the ensemble.

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Excerpted from The Complete Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II by Oscar Hammerstein
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