American Composer and Lyricist Stephen Sondheim Has Died, Aged 91

Sondheim is known as one of the greatest Broadway songwriters of the latter half of the 20th century

5
(Photo courtesy: Everything Sondheim)

 

Originally a student of piano and organ, Sondheim first studied musical theatre under his family friend, Oscar Hammerstein II, and went on to study at Williams College in Massachusetts. After graduating, he received the Hutchinson Prize for composition and studied further in New York City with composer Milton Babbitt.

One of his first roles on Broadway was as the lyricist for Leonard Bernstein’s "West Side Story," which opened in 1957 and is now being revived on screen in an upcoming film. Also in the 50s, Sondheim wrote the lyrics for the show “Gypsy.”

He wrote, for the first time, both the music and lyrics for a show in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," which opened in 1962 and won a Tony award for best musical.

His additional ten Tony Awards came from shows such as "Company" (1970), "Follies" (1971), "A Little Night Music" (1973), and "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (1979).

Sondheim often collaborated with playwright-director James Lapine. Together they created "Into the Woods" (1987), "Passion" (1994), and "Sunday in the Park with George" (1984) — the latter of which took the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for drama. His additional collaborators included producer and director Hal Prince and orchestrator Jonathan Tunick.

His additional accolades include the 1993 Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement, the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, and the Tony Award for lifetime achievement in 2008. Two years later, a Broadway theater on New York's West 43rd Street was renamed in his honor.

Our condolences to Mr. Sondheim's family, friends, and colleagues.