Let’s tell the truth about Creative Artists; we already know the myths:
Myths About Creative Types
- All Creative Artists are right-brain, impractical people,
- Given a choice, creative people tend to wear shabby clothes and messy hairstyles.
- Creative people all keep odd hours and disorganized lives.
- Artists are profligate, spendthrifts who don’t understand the value of money, and;
- Damn few artists have enough sense to run a successful business.
Anyone who believes these stereotypes needs a copy of Something Wonderful, the new biography of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Not only does it recount the history of a creative partnership, it shows the practical businessmen that created that art.
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein were both successful men of the theatre before they teamed up together. They’d both written hits and flops. And they’d both worked with other partners before so they knew how to give and take. Neither man felt like he knew the other. But neither of them let that get in the way of creating great songs together.
In Something Wonderful, Todd Purdum reveals how the R&H songs we know, the ones where words and music fall so naturally together that they almost seem inevitable, were the results of lengthy revision and multi-stage efforts. Hammerstein agonized over each word and phrase, spending weeks to craft the right lyrics. Then Rodgers, in a separate time and place, would sweep in a lyrical melody, so quickly it infuriated the lyricist. Sometimes they’d debate, very politely, over details in the work. And, outside of business, the two men tended to lead separate lives.
But, inside of the theatrical business, they were indivisible partners. They forged and reigned over the Rodgers and Hammerstein empire, creating and casting tours of past successful shows while they created and produced new ones each season. And, despite all assumptions about artists, both men kept tight hold of the money.
If you’re a theatre geek or a musical freak, you’ve probably already read this book. If not, pick up a copy anyway. You should know the truth about artists. Sometimes the truth can be Something Wonderful.