July 26, 2005 Library of Congress Acquires Rare Musical Theater Manuscripts

Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

The Library of Congress has recently received two important gifts of manuscripts to add to its Music Division American Musical Theater collections.

The first is a collection of lyric sketches by Lorenz Hart, the lyricist who collaborated with Richard Rodgers between 1920 and 1943 and wrote dozens of enduring standards, such as “My Funny Valentine,” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” and “Bewitched.” The second collection, of Oscar Hammerstein II manuscripts, comes to the Library as a gift from Hammerstein’s biographer, author and record producer Hugh Fordin.

Lorenz Hart was notorious for scribbling his lyrics on napkins and odd pieces of paper, and few of his manuscripts survive. However, a cache of 14 lyric sheets and sketches had been held by the Hart estate, most recently stored in a bank vault. These 29 pages include some fairly well-known titles, such as a second verse for “Here in My Arms” and “Ten Cents a Dance”—written on the back of stationery from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston. Others of the songs are more obscure, like “A Baby’s Best Friend,” subtitled “Beatrice Lillie’s Burlesque Ballad.”

The manuscripts had been held in trust for Hart’s brother and sister-in-law Teddy and Dorothy Hart. Under the conditions of the trust, when Dorothy Hart died in 2000, the majority interest was designated for the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York Inc. (UJA). After researching potential homes for the collection, the UJA determined that the Library of Congress was the best-suited location for the Hart manuscripts, and the Library was pleased to accept the collection.

The approximately 125 additional Hammerstein materials will complement the Library’s already significant Hammerstein Collection and include many rare and important new items. Among them is a folder of lyric sheets and dialogue for “Oklahoma!” and items such as a page of rhymes for “The Surrey with the Fringe on the Top”; sketches for “I Cain' t Say No” and “People Will Say We’re in Love”; drafts of several songs that were never used or completed (at least one of which appears to have been replaced by “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’”); and even a hand-drawn map showing the fictitious town of Claremore and the relative locations of the homes of Laurey, Ado Annie and others.

There are similar folders for Hammerstein’s “Pipe Dream” and “Flower Drum Song.” There is also a folder on Gertrude Lawrence and “The King and I,” which includes correspondence with Lawrence, as well as a letter marked “not mailed” that express the concern of Rodgers and Hammerstein over her ill health and its effect on her performance.

The Music Division of the Library of Congress holds the nation’s largest collection of papers of the composers and lyricists who created the American musical; they include Victor Herbert, Sigmund Romberg, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Vincent Youmans, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Arthur Schwartz, Frederick Loewe, Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Herman and others.

Researchers wishing to consult these recently acquired Hart and Hammerstein materials should contact the Music Division in advance at (202) 707-5503 to verify their availability.


PR 05-155
ISSN 0731-3527