Richard Charles Rodgers was an American composer, known largely for his work in musical theater. With 43 Broadway musicals and over 900 songs to his credit, Rodgers was one of the most significant American composers of the 20th century, and his compositions had a significant impact on popular music.
He is best known for his songwriting partnerships with the lyricist Lorenz Hart, with whom he wrote several musicals throughout the 1920s and 1930s, including Pal Joey, A Connecticut Yankee, On Your Toes and Babes in Arms, and Oscar Hammerstein II, with whom he wrote musicals through the 1940s and 1950s such as Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. His collaborations with Hammerstein, in particular, are celebrated for bringing the Broadway musical to a new maturity by telling stories that were focused around characters and drama rather than the light-hearted entertainment that the genre was known for beforehand.
Rodgers was the first person to win all of what are considered the top American entertainment awards in theater, film, recording, and television – a Tony, an Oscar, a Grammy, and an Emmy— now known collectively as an EGOT. In addition, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, making him one of only two people to receive all five awards (Marvin Hamlisch is the other). In 1978, Rodgers was awarded The Kennedy Center Honors for his lifetime achievement in the arts.