Oscar Hammerstein II

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Oscar Greeley Clendenning Hammerstein II (pronounced /ˈhæmərstaɪn/; July 12, 1895 – August 23, 1960) was an American writer, theatrical producer, and (usually uncredited) theatre director of musicals for almost forty years. Hammerstein won eight Tony Awards and was twice awarded an Academy Award for "Best Original Song", and much of his work is part of the unofficial Great American Songbook. He wrote 850 songs. Hammerstein was the lyricist and playwright in his partnerships; his collaborators wrote the music. Hammerstein collaborated with composers, including Jerome Kern, Vincent Youmans, Rudolf Friml and Sigmund Romberg, but his most famous collaboration was with Richard Rodgers.

The pronunciation of Hammerstein's surname is often anglicized, to /ˈhæmərstiːn/ HAM-ər-steen. Hammerstein himself, however, kept a more German pronunciation of the vowels, /ˈhæmərstaɪn/ HAM-ər-stine.


Early life

Hammerstein was born Oscar Greeley Clendenning Hammerstein in New York City, the son of Alice (née Nimmo) and William Hammerstein.[1] His grandfather was German-born Jewish theater impresario Oscar Hammerstein I, and his mother was the daughter of Scottish and English parents.[2] Hammerstein was raised an Episcopalian.

Although Hammerstein's father managed the Victoria Theatre for Oscar Hammerstein I and was a producer of vaudeville shows (he is generally credited with inventing the "pie-in-the-face" routine), he was opposed to his son's desire to participate in the arts.[3] Hammerstein attended Columbia University from 1912–1916 and studied at Columbia Law School until 1917.[4] It was not until his father's death on June 10, 1914, that he participated in his first play with the Varsity Show, entitled On Your Way. Throughout the rest of his college career, Hammerstein wrote and performed in several Varsity Shows.

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