Music and the Spoken Word

Of Family, Stories, Hard Work, and Optimism - Sunday, February 12, 2017

My life, like yours and like everyone’s, comes with a history. Every family tree is full of people and stories—some we remember and cherish, some we know very little about, and some we might just as soon forget. And just as the highest branches of a tree draw nourishment from the deepest roots, we each are a product—to some extent—of those who went before us. But the great thing is that no matter our past, we can build a bright future with hard work and optimism. That’s one of the lessons from my family’s story.
My name, Oscar Hammerstein, conjures images of my well-known ancestors and their impact on American culture and musical theater. My grandfather Oscar Hammerstein II was the lyricist and playwright for many beloved musicals that remain the gold standard by which present-day musicals are judged. His stories resonate in our hearts because they are universal yet extraordinary. Each person’s story is remarkable, unusual, and common—all at the same time. In a way, my grandfather’s stories are everyone’s stories. And that’s why we love them as much today as we did when Grandfather wrote them decades ago.
All my life I’ve been told that my grandfather was a genius, but he always denied it. Instead, he credited his success to two things: he worked hard, and he made tons of mistakes. In his mind, there was nothing magic about it—it was more a matter of perspiration than inspiration.
The other lesson from Grandfather’s life is a little less obvious. Even though he’s known today for his many successes, he learned much more from his failures. Rousing applause tends to drown out the lessons you need to hear. But a flop often leaves you alone with your thoughts, and you learn valuable lessons the hard way. He used to tell his sons on the tennis court, “Don’t think about the last ball. Think about the next ball.” That kind of optimism sprang from his belief in the power of storytelling and in his tireless resolve to keep trying.
Grandfather’s life story, like his name, lives on in my life as I live by the lessons he learned and taught. And the same can be true for all of us. With our stories and with our families, with hard work and optimism, as Grandfather wrote, we can climb every mountain and follow every rainbow.

Written by Lloyd D. Newell
Given by Oscar Andrew Hammerstein

February 12, 2017
Broadcast Number 4,561

Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

Mack Wilberg
Ryan Murphy

Dallyn Vail Bayles

Andrew Unsworth

Lloyd Newell

Special Guest
Oscar Hammerstein III

Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’, from Oklahoma!
Rodgers & Hammerstein; arr. Arthur Harris

The Sound of Music, from The Sound of Music
Rodgers & Hammerstein; arr. Arthur Harris

My Favorite Things, from The Sound of Music
Rodgers & Hammerstein; arr. Arthur Harris

If I Loved You, from Carousel
Rodgers & Hammerstein; arr. Arthur Harris

Edelweiss, from The Sound of Music
Richard Rodgers, arr. Andrew Unsworth

You’ll Never Walk Alone, from Carousel
Rodgers & Hammerstein; arr. Arthur Harris

It’s a Grand Night for Singing, from State Fair
Rodgers & Hammerstein; arr. Arthur Harris

Climb Ev’ry Mountain, from The Sound of Music
Rodgers & Hammerstein; arr. Arthur Harris