Even if Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II had never teamed up, each could claim iconic status.
In a partnership with Lorenz Hart, Rodgers had written the music for some of the wittiest and most sophisticated songs ever penned.
Hammerstein had been the moving force behind the enormously influential “Show Boat” (1927). But luckily for anyone interested in whistling a happy tune or greeting a beautiful morning, these already experienced hands did collaborate, first on the seminal “Oklahoma!” (1943), then on “Carousel” (1945), “South Pacific” (1949), “The King and I” (1951) and “The Sound of Music” (1959), among others.
Their unparalleled success and near hegemony invited an inevitable backlash, but even the stoniest hearts still melt on hearing Billy Bigelow’s “Soliloquy,” as well they should.