Rodgers and Hart

From Academic Kids

Rodgers and Hart was the songwriting team consisting of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. They worked together on about thirty musicals from 1919 until Hart's death in 1943. Their breakthrough came in 1925 with The Garrick Gaieties.

Among the musicals written by the team were Jumbo (1935), On Your Toes (1936), Babes in Arms (1937), The Boys from Syracuse (1938), I Married an Angel (1939), and Pal Joey (1940).

The musicals themselves belong to the era when musicals were revue-like and libretti were silly, forgettable hooks onto which to hang songs; they are rarely revived (and seldom with much success; the 2002 revival of The Boys from Syracuse closed after 29 performances). Their songs, however, include dozens of the great standards of the American popular repertoire. Among them:

  • Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
  • Blue Moon
  • Falling in Love with Love (is Falling For Make-Believe)
  • I Could Write a Book
  • I Wish I Were In Love Again
  • Johnny One-Note
  • Little Girl Blue
  • Lover
  • (We'll Have) Manhattan, (the Bronx and Staten Island, too)
  • Mountain Greenery
  • My Funny Valentine
  • There's a Small Hotel
  • The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
  • This Can't Be Love
  • Thou Swell
  • With a Song in My Heart
  • You Took Advantage of Me

Comparisons between Rodgers and Hart and the successor team of Rodgers and Hammerstein are inevitable. Hammerstein's lyrics project warmth, sincere optimism, and occasional corniness. Hart's lyrics showed greater sophistication, more use of verbal cleverness, and more of a "New York" or "Broadway" sensibility. The archetypical Rodgers and Hart song, "Manhattan," rhymes "The great big city's a wondrous toy/Just made for a girl and boy" in the first stanza, then reprises with "The city's glamor can never spoil/The dreams of a boy and goil" in the last. Many of the songs (Falling in Love with Love, Little Girl Blue, My Funny Valentine) are wistful or sad, and emotional ambivalence seems to be perceptible in the background of even the sunnier songs. For example, "You Took Advantage of Me" appears to be a evocation of amorous joy, but the very title suggests some doubt as to whether the relationship is mutual or exploitative.


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