Nowhere has America’s contribution to the world been more far-reaching or happily embraced than in its music. And no one contributed more to that gift than Richard Rodgers, whose birthday is celebrated today. He composed some of the most inspirational songs ever written, and with his lyrics partners Lorenz Hart (they wrote the song Manhattan, which was a career turner) and, later, Oscar Hammerstein II, churned out more than 900 songs and 40 Broadway musicals, including The King and I, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music and South Pacific, which is currently enjoying a Broadway remake.
On the weekend that observes his birth, on a hot day in New York City in 1902, do your mother or father or your grandparents a favor and play some of his famous tunes for their enjoyment. Even more important, if you haven’t experienced his work, play some for yourself. All the big singers of the past like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald performed Rodgers’ work. But many great contemporary jazz singers, like Tierney Sutton (who celebrates her own birthday today as well) have also taken to producing modern upbeat versions of his monumental songbook, like Manhattan, Where or When and It Never Entered My Mind.
In the world of Richard Rodgers and his partners you find words and music that live on forever. Once you’ve got a Rodgers and Hart or Rodgers and Hammerstein song in your head, you will never walk alone. They are more than music, they are contributions to an approach to life that captivates the human heart and all its best emotions. What a gift it is to the world that people like Richard Rodgers have walked here before and have taken up a pen or a piano or a paintbrush.
Discover them again, or for the first time. They can change your life.