Monday, June 11, 2018

Todd S. Purdum

Todd S. Purdum's new book is Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution. From his Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: What was the relationship like - the friendship between Rodgers and Hammerstein?

PURDUM: I think the thing that was most interest to me in doing the research for the book was to come to realize how they had tremendous professional respect for each other. They had terrific artistic collaboration and commercial success. But they weren't personally close. And I found it very sad to learn that each went to his grave not knowing whether the other really had liked him. And they had a kind of a distant - a very formal relationship.

The one documentary example that survives is some letters they exchanged during the writing of the special television program of "Cinderella," written for Julie Andrews in 1957. And they'd been working together for 14, 13 years by that point. And the tone of their letters is - they sign each other love. But it's really - it's a very formal - well, Mr. Hammerstein, well, Mr. Rodgers. They're so correct with each other you might think they just met.

GROSS: Do you think one of the reasons why each didn't know if they were liked by the other was that they worked long distance - with Hammerstein in Pennsylvania and Rodgers in New York? They weren't in the same room composing. They weren't even in the same state. So they didn't have that kind of direct partnership where, you know, every day or every week they're together in the same room working something out together - collaborating in real time.

PURDUM: Yeah, no. It definitely wasn't the cinematic ideal of, you know, sitting around the piano and cranking something out together, you know. But...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue