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Richard Rodgers bio says work was his life
New York Daily News- 1/ 18/ 2004

One would think that we heard enough of Richard Rodgers in 2002 which marked the centenary of the composer's birth to last us for a long time.

Well, we heard a lot of great singing by Hugh Jackman as Billy Bigelow in a Carnegie Hall concert version of "Carousel" and by Constance Towers in a Town Hall tribute but it turns out there is a lot of Rodgers' music waiting to be discovered.

In his meticulously researched new book "Richard Rodgers," the inaugural edition in the Yale Broadway Masters series, Geoffrey Block notes that there is a song from Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's 1927 "Connecticut Yankee" that has never been recorded.

Given that "Connecticut Yankee" is the source of such Rodgers perennials as "My Heart Stood Still" and "Thou Swell," it is amazing that no one has recorded "You're What I Need," which was cut from the score on its pre-Broadway tour.

There are many such fascinating nuggets in Block's book, unlike the 2002 Meryle Secrest biography, which focused on the warts in Rodgers' life his occasional bouts of depression, alcoholism and womanizing.

Block notes that Rodgers lived in his work. The most intense relationship he had was with the notes he wrote. He sees Rodgers' "real life" in the extraordinarily abundant work he produced in a career that spanned nearly 60 years.

Whatever happened in Rodgers' personal life, Block contends, in his musical life he continued to grow at least through "Rex," written three years before his death in 1979. One comes away with a renewed awe at Rodgers' achievement.

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