Wednesday, April 1, 2009

President Obama's gifts to the Queen

President Obama presented two gifts to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, during their meeting earlier today. The royal couple received an IPOD with video of the Queen's 2007 visit to the US. They were also presented with a rare signed copy of the Richard Rodgers' songbook. I've noticed that no journalist or commentator has picked up on the significance of the Richard Rodgers' songbook. In case you have never heard of Richard Rodgers, let me tell that Rodgers (1902-1979) was one of the great American musical composers, who with the brilliant lyricist Oscar Hammerstein, wrote some of the best ever American musicals, including Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific and The Sound of Music. Rodgers also composed several brilliant musicals with the composer Lorenz Hart.
On August 4, 1947, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth (celebrating her 47th birthday), Princess Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, and Elizabeth's fiance, Lt. Philip Mountbatten attended a performance of Oklahoma at the Drury Lane Theatre. One of the songs in the musical is "People Will Say We're in Love." This song became a particular favorite of the newly engaged couple, and Princess Elizabeth would request the song to be played at various dances.
Thus, this was a very special gift that was presented to the Queen and her husband.
Someone did their homework when they selected this gift.

Here is a list of what was uploaded to the IPod. Note that the entire cast recording of Oklahoma was included, as well as selections from American and British musicals.

(According to one comment to the New York Times blog about the gifts, a member of the Hart family stated that the book given to the Queen was the very rare Rodgers & Hart Songbook, which was published in 1951 This of course would not include Hammerstein songs).


Rose Marie Raccioppi said...

A gift of music of one culture to another is a true dialogue. To touch a personal note in exchange is always appreciated. Well done!

Anonymous said...

"People Will Say We are in Love" was dedicated to the Queen & Prince Philip for her official birthday last year. Her birthday is celebrated in different States of Australia on different days. Most States celebrate it in June. But, Western Australia celebrates it in October.

Her real birthday is in fact 21 April. I was born on her 28th birthday, shortly after her famous first tour to Australia.

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