About this Piece
The Rodgers and Hammerstein partnership was one of the legendary collaborations in music theater history. Their first work together, Oklahoma!, opened on Broadway in 1943. It was a hard act to follow, but the team came up with another hit two years later in Carousel, which premiered in 1945 and ran for 890 performances. Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) considered Carousel his and Hammerstein's best work, recalling in his autobiography that "Oscar never wrote more meaningful or more moving lyrics, and to me, my score is more satisfying than anything I have ever written."
It was filmed by 20th Century Fox in 1956 with Gordon MacRae as Billy and Shirley Jones as his wife Julie; the film orchestrations were prepared by the veteran Edward B. Powell and John Williams, who was just starting out in Hollywood. The movie opens with the Heaven Effect, shimmering music dominated by the sounds of bells, harps, and other percussion, with the sound of the calliope recalling the carousel. This segues into the Waltz, one of the best-known passages of purely instrumental music ever written by Rodgers and one that certainly bears out his judgment about Carousel. Fifteen years ago, John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra revived the film orchestration of the Heaven Effect and Waltz for their first recording together, Hollywood Dreams.
- John Mangum is the Philharmonic's Annotator/Designer.