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At Columbia, Rodgers joined the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity.
In 1921, Rodgers shifted his studies to the Institute of Musical Art (now the Juilliard School).
They wrote the songs for a benefit show presented by the prestigious Theatre Guild, called The Garrick Gaieties, and the critics found the show fresh and delightful.
Only meant to run one day, the Guild knew they had a success and allowed it to re-open later.
In 1939, he wrote the ballet Ghost Town for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, with choreography by Marc Platoff.
His partnership with Hart began having problems because of the lyricist's unreliability and declining health, Rodgers began working with Oscar Hammerstein II, with whom he had previously written songs (before ever working with Lorenz Hart).
Their first musical, the groundbreaking hit Oklahoma!
(1943), marked the beginning of the most successful partnership in American musical theatre history. What was once a collection of songs, dances and comic turns held together by a tenuous plot became an integrated masterpiece.
Their first professional production was the 1920 Poor Little Ritz Girl, which also had music by Sigmund Romberg.
Much of Rodgers's work with both Hart and Hammerstein was orchestrated by Robert Russell Bennett.
Rodgers composed twelve themes, which Bennett used in preparing the orchestra score for the 26-episode World War II television documentary Victory at Sea (1952–53).
Born into a prosperous German Jewish family in Arverne, Queens, New York City, Rodgers was the son of Mamie (Levy) and Dr. Rodgers spent his early teenage summers in Camp Wigwam (Waterford, Maine) where he composed some of his first songs.
William Abrahams Rodgers, a prominent physician who had changed the family name from Abrahams. Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, and later collaborator Oscar Hammerstein II all attended Columbia University.