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November 16: The Sound of Music

November 16, 2010

blogSpanThe Sound of Music, by Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics), premiered on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne theater on this date in 1958. It starred Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel as the parents of the von Trapps, a real-life musical family that left Austria during the rise of Nazism. The Sound of Music ran for 1,443 performances and injected into the culture such hit songs as “Do-Re-Mi” (“do, a deer, a female deer”), “My Favorite Things” (which John Coltrane turned into a jazz classic), “The Sound of Music,” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” Oscar Hammerstein, who had a Jewish father but was raised as an Episcopalian, died only months after the premiere of the show, by which time he and Rodgers had written Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, and The King and I, and numerous other worthy shows that revolutionized the Broadway stage. Richard Rodgers and Marvin Hamlisch are the only people in history to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award.

“What’s wrong with sweetness and light? It’s been around quite a while.” —Richard Rodgers