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Stephen Sondheim: Gershwin great? It ain't necessarily so

Coward was glib, Gilbert was boring and Hammerstein was obsessed with birds . . . Master of musicals Stephen Sondheim gives his verdict on his fellow songwriters

Oscar Hammerstein

Despite the fact that Oscar Hammerstein II taught me virtually everything I know about lyric writing, I feel obligated to list some of my quibbles with his work, poking fun along the way. A lot of songwriters fill in empty spaces in the music with reiteration, but there's a fervent lack of surprise in Hammerstein's thoughts, made manifest by his need to spell things out with plodding insistence, as in You've Got To Be Carefully Taught from South Pacific: "You've got to be taught before it's too late,/ Before you are six or seven or eight," which always makes me want to ask, "What about five or nine or 13?"

Hammerstein sometimes gets carried away by "pretty" words and images instead of accurate ones. In A Cock-Eyed Optimist,

See full article on The Guardian - Film News