Stephen Sondheim, Giant of Musical Theater, Dies at 91

Stephen Sondheim, skillful composer and lyricist of musicals including Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, and Sweeney Todd, passed away Friday at the age of 91, NS New York Times report. His death was confirmed by F. Richard PappasSondheim’s lawyer and friend, who said that Sondheim died suddenly.

Sondheim is a veteran statesman of the American stage, but he has always stayed out of it. An important musical icon that challenged preconceptions about theatrical, he created songs for a murderous barber, a Neo-Impressionist. and a vengeful witch. His work has always contained moral ambiguity, never providing the easy answers some seek in musicals.

But when Sondheim took an unprecedented path, he owed his career to the greats who preceded him — one of them in particular. He was born in 1930 in New York, is a designer and a costume manufacturer. Sondheim’s parents divorced when he was 10 years old, and his artistic life really began when he met Oscar Hammerstein, who lived nearby in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Sondheim quickly became a satellite member of the Hammerstein family, with its patriarch who wrote lyrics for shows like Oklahoma! and south pacific, act as a “surrogate father” for him, in Sondheim’s own words.

In interviews, Sondheim often recounts the story when he asked Hammerstein for feedback on a musical he wrote for school when he was 15 years old. “He started from the very beginning — and I often say, at the risk of overstatement, that I probably learned more about songwriting that afternoon than I did the rest of my life. my life,” said Sondheim Reviews of Paris in 1997.

Sondheim originally intended to be a mathematician, but instead studied music at Williams College, graduating in 1950. One of his early jobs was in television, writing screenplays for ghost comedy Coating. Although he aspired to write musicals, when given the opportunity to collaborate with Leonard Bernstein on West story in the end, Sondheim was reluctant at first; Bernstein is writing the lyrics, and Sondheim doesn’t want to be labeled a lyricist. It was Hammerstein who convinced him not to give up the gig.

Sondheim was similarly disappointed when West victory was followed by another group, this time with composer Jule Styne cho Gangster, The story of gangster stripper Rose Lee and her overbearing mother. (Star Ethel Merman was worried an untested writer had led her into a fiasco.) While working on the show, he and Styne previewed several songs in the pipeline. its performance for Cole Porter. The Broadway legend at the time was depressed; Merman, a close friend of Porter, believes the new material can cheer him up. It did.

In his book Perfecting His Hat, Sondheim recalled a winning moment: while performing “Together, Where We Go,” he heard a “gasp of joy” from Porter. What did it? The quartet rhymes in the sentence, “No match no fight no hatred and no ego — Amigos! Together.” That’s how sharp Sondheim was: he was able to impress even the man who wrote, “do it which you do well.”

It was not until 1962 that Sondheim was credited for writing both the music and the lyrics of a major musical – cho A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, a Zero Mostel vehicle taken from Plautus to tell the story of the slave Pseudolus. As Sondheim later said walkie talkiehowever, he won’t really “hear” [his] his own voice loud and clear” in his work until 1970 The company. The groundbreaking show, with a book by George Furth, transcends narrative conventions to present the anxieties of Bobby, an unmarried thirty-year-old living in New York, as a series of analogies. acting like an old story with his peers. According to Sondheim himself, The company “Being the first Broadway musical whose defining quality is not satire or sentimentality, but irony.” Stephen Sondheim, Giant of Musical Theater, Dies at 91


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