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Sondheim, Stephen 1930-

Sondheim, Stephen 1930-

PERSONAL

Full name, Stephen Joshua Sondheim; born March 22, 1930, in New York, NY; son of Herbert (a dress manufacturer) and Etta Janet (a fashion designer and interior decorator; maiden name, Fox) Sondheim. Education: Graduated from George School, Newton, PA, 1946; Williams College, B.A. (magna cum laude), music, 1950. Informal apprentice to Oscar Hammerstein II, mid-1940s; studied composition with Milton Babbitt, early 1950s. Avocational Interests: Mathematics, crossword puzzles.

Career:

Composer, lyricist, singer, and writer. Visiting professor of contemporary theatre and fellow at St. Catherine's College, Oxford, England, 1990.

Member:

American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, Authors League of America, Writers Guild of America, Dramatists Guild (president of council, 1973-81).

Awards, Honors:

Hutchinson Prize, Williams College, 1950; Antoinette Perry Award nomination (with Leonard Bernstein), outstanding musical, 1958, for West Side Story; Antoinette Perry Award nomination (with Jule Styne), musical play, 1960, for Gypsy; Antoinette Perry Award, musical play, 1963, for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Antoinette Perry Award nomination (with Richard Rodgers), composer and lyricist—musical play, 1965, for Do I Hear a Waltz?; Drama Desk awards for music and lyrics, 1970, New York Drama Critics Circle Award, best new musical, 1970, Grammy Award, musical cast show—best album, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1970, and Antoinette Perry awards, best music of a musical play and best lyrics of a musical play, 1971, all for Company; Drama Desk awards, for music and lyrics, 1971, New York Drama Critics Circle Award, best new musical, 1971, Antoinette Perry Award, best score of a musical, 1972, Evening Standard Drama Award, best musical, 1987, and Laurence Olivier Theatre Award, Society of West End Theatre, 1988, all for Follies; Honorary doctorate, Williams College, 1971; Drama Desk awards, for music and lyrics, 1973, Antoinette Perry Award, best score of a musical, 1973, Grammy Award, musical cast show—best album, 1973, New York Drama Critics Circle Award, best new musical, 1973, and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, music and lyrics, 1974, all for A Little Night Music; musical salute given by the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and the National Hemophilia Foundation at Shubert Theatre, 1973; Edgar Allan Poe Award, best motion picture screenplay, Mystery Writers of America, 1974, for The Last of Sheila; Grammy Award, song of the year, 1975, for "Send in the Clowns" from the musical A Little Night Music; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best score of a Broadway musical, 1976, and New York Drama Critics Circle Award, best new musical, 1976, both for Pacific Overtures; Drama Desk awards for music and for lyrics, 1978, Antoinette Perry Award, best score of a musical, 1979, Grammy Award, musical cast show—best album, 1979, New York Drama Critics Circle Award, best new musical, 1979, and Elizabeth Hull-Kate Warriner Award, Dramatists Guild, 1979, all for Sweeney Todd; Drama Desk Award, lyrics, 1982, Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best score of a musical, 1982, both for Merrily We Roll Along; Brandeis University Creative Arts Medal in theatre arts, 1982; Unique Contribution Award, Drama League of New York, 1983; Drama Desk Award, lyrics, 1984, Antoinette Perry Award nomination, score of a musical, 1984, Grammy Award, musical cast show—best album, 1984, New York Drama Critics Circle Award, best new musical, 1984, Pulitzer Prize for drama, 1985, and Laurence Olivier Award, musical of the year, 1990, all for Sunday in the Park with George; Commonwealth Award of Distinguished Service in dramatic arts, Bank of Delaware, 1984; Grammy Award, musical cast show—best album, 1986, for Follies in Concert; Drama Desk awards for best lyrics and for outstanding musical, 1988, Antoinette Perry Award, best original score, 1988, Grammy Award, musical cast show—best album, 1988, New York Drama Critics Circle Award, best new musical, 1988, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, original musical score, 1989, and Evening Standard Drama Award, best musical, 1989, all for Into the Woods; named Lion of the Performing Arts, New York Public Library, 1989; Academy Award, best achievement in music—original song, Golden Globe Award nomination, best original song—music and lyrics, 1990, for "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" from the film Dick Tracy; Golden Globe Award nomination, best original song—music and lyrics, 1990, for "What Can You Lose?" from the film Dick Tracy; Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement Award, 1993; Drama Desk awards, outstanding music and outstanding lyrics, 1994, Evening Standard Award (with James Lapine), best musical, 1996, and Grammy Award (with Phil Ramone), best musical show album, 1994, for Passion; Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, best music and lyrics, 1995, for Assassins; London Critics Circle Award, best musical, 1995, for Company; National Medal of Freedom, National Endowment of the Arts, 1996; Johnny Mercer Lifetime Achievement Award, Songwriters Hall of Fame, 1999; Laurence Olivier Theatre Award nomination, outstanding musical production, 2000, for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Praemium Imperiale, Japan Art Association, 2000, Drama Desk Award, best lyrics, 2000, Drama Desk Award nomination, best music, 2000, both for Saturday Night; Laurence Olivier Theatre Award, best new musical, 2001, for Merrily We Roll Along; Laurence Olivier Theatre Award, outstanding musical production, 2004, for Pacific Overtures.

CREDITS

Stage Appearances:

Sondheim: A Musical Tribute, Sam S. Schubert Theatre, New York City, 1973.

Host, Allegro, City Center Theatre, New York City, 1994.

Film Appearances:

Clapper boy, Beat the Devil (also known as Il Tesoro dell frica), 1953.

Himself, Original Cast Album-Company, 1970.

Singer, Hey Mr. Producer (also known as Hey Mr. Producer!: The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh), 1998.

Himself, West Side Memories, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists Home Entertainment, 2003.

Himself, Camp, 2003.

Himself, Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There (also known as Broadway, Broadway: The Golden Age, and Broadway: The Movie), Dada Films, 2003.

Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age (documentary; also known as B.G.A. 2 and Broadway: The Golden Age Two), 2008.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Maxie Schwartz, June Moon, PBS, 1974.

Putting It Together—The Making of the Broadway Album, HBO, 1986.

Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall, 1992.

The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 1993.

Some Enchanted Evening: Celebrating Oscar Hammerstein II (also known as Celebrating Oscar Hammerstein II), PBS, 1995.

Company, 1996.

Hey, Mr. Producer! The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh (also known as Great Performances: Hey, Mr. Producer! The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh and Hey, Mr. Producer!), 1998.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

The David Frost Show, 1971.

"Broadway Sings: The Music of Jule Styne," Great Performances, PBS, 1987.

"Bernstein at 70," Great Performances, PBS, 1989.

"Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall," Great Performances, 1993.

Inside the Actors Studio, 1994.

"From Russia with Love," Walk On By: The Story of the Popular Song (also known as Popular Song: Soundtrack of the Century and The Story of Pop), 2001.

"Soundtrack," Walk On By: The Story of the Popular Song (also known as Popular Song: Soundtrack of the Century and The Story of Pop), 2001.

"Dominick Dunne: Murder He Wrote," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

Changing Stages, PBS, 2001.

"Rose," Character Studies, PBS, 2005.

Voice of himself, "Yokel Chords," The Simpsons (animated), Fox, 2007.

"Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," HBO First Look, HBO, 2008.

"The Homecoming Opening/Sweeney Todd from Stage to Screen," Broadway Beat, 2008.

RECORDINGS

Albums; As Composer and Lyricist:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Capitol, 1962.

Anyone Can Whistle, Columbia, 1964.

Do I Hear a Waltz?, Columbia, 1965.

Company, Columbia, 1970.

Follies, Capitol, 1971, released as Follies in Concert, RCA, 1985.

A Little Night Music (includes song "Send in the Clowns"), Columbia, 1973.

Sondheim: A Musical Tribute (anthology), Warner Bros., 1973, released as Sondheim Evening: A Musical Tribute, RCA, 1990.

Pacific Overtures, RCA, 1976.

Sweeney Todd, RCA, 1979.

Marry Me a Little, RCA, 1981.

Merrily We Roll Along, RCA, 1981.

Sunday in the Park with George, RCA, 1984.

Music of Stephen Sondheim, Book of the Month Records, 1985.

Into the Woods, RCA, 1988.

(With others) I'm Breathless (Music from and Inspired by the Film "Dick Tracy") (includes songs "Sooner or Later [I Always Get My Man]" and "What Can You Lose?"), Sire, 1990.

The Stephen Sondheim Album, Fynsworth Alley, 2000.

Musicality of Sondheim, Jay Records, 2002.

Comedy Tonight: Stephen Sondheim's Funniest Songs, RCA Victor, 2002.

Send in the Clowns: The Ballads of Stephen Sondheim, RCA Victor, 2002.

Simply Sondheim: 75th Birthday Benefit, Kritzerland, 2007.

Songs also included in Stephen Sondheim: A Collectors Sondheim (compilation of original cast recordings), RCA.

Albums; As Lyricist Only:

West Side Story (music by Leonard Bernstein), Columbia, 1957, released as film soundtrack, 1961.

Gypsy (music by Jule Styne; includes song "Small World"), Columbia, 1959.

WRITINGS

Stage Music:

The Girls of Summer, Longacre Theatre, New York City, 1956.

Invitation to a March, Music Box Theatre, New York City, 1960.

Twigs, 1971.

The Enclave, Theatre Four, New York City, 1973.

(With John Kander and Giuseppe Verdi) Once in a Lifetime, Public Players Inc., Central Arts Theatre, New York City, 1975.

King Lear, Joseph Papp Public Theatre, New York City, 2007.

Stage Lyrics:

West Side Story (music by Leonard Bernstein), produced at Winter Garden Theatre, New York City, 1957 and 1960, book and vocal score published, 1958.

Gypsy (music by Jule Styne; includes song "Small World"), produced at Broadway Theatre, New York City, 1959, book and vocal score published, 1960.

Do I Hear a Waltz? (music by Richard Rodgers), produced at 46th Street Theatre, New York City, 1965, book and vocal score published, 1966.

(With others) Leonard Bernstein's Theatre Songs, Theatre De Lys, New York City, 1965.

Cowriter of additional lyrics with John LaTouche), Candide (revival; original lyrics by Richard Wilbur; music by Leonard Bernstein), Chelsea Theatre Center of Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY, 1973-74, then Broadway Theatre, New York City, 1974.

(With others) By Bernstein, Westside Theatre, New York City, 1975.

Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, 2005.

Stage Music and Lyrics:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, produced at Alvin Theatre, New York City, 1962, book and vocal score published, 1963.

Anyone Can Whistle, produced at Majestic Theatre, New York City, 1964, book and vocal score published, 1965.

Company, produced at Alvin Theatre, 1970, book and vocal score published, 1971.

Follies, produced at Winter Garden Theatre, New York City, 1971, book and vocal score published, 1972.

A Little Night Music (includes song "Send in the Clowns"), produced at Shubert Theatre, New York City, 1973, then Majestic Theatre, 1973-74, book and vocal score published, 1974.

The Frogs, Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1974.

Pacific Overtures, produced at Winter Garden Theatre, 1976, book and vocal score published, 1977.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, produced at Uris Theatre (now Gershwin Theatre), New York City, 1979-80, book and vocal score published, 1979.

(With others) The Madwoman of Central Park West, 22 Steps Theatre, New York City, 1979.

Merrily We Roll Along, Alvin Theatre, New York City, 1981-82.

Sunday in the Park with George, produced at Playwrights Horizons Theatre, New York City, 1983, book and vocal score published, 1986.

Sunday in the Park with George, Booth Theatre, New York City, 1984-85.

Into the Woods, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, CA, 1986, then Martin Beck Theatre, New York City, 1987-89.

(With others) Jerome Robbins Broadway, Imperial Theatre, New York City, 1989-90.

Assassins, Playwrights Horizons Theatre, 1991.

Passion, Plymouth Theatre, New York City, 1994.

Wise Guys, workshop performance, 1999.

Saturday Night, Second Stage Theatre, New York City, 2000.

Bounce, Goodman Theatre, Chicago, IL, 2003.

Stage Musical Anthologies:

Sondheim: A Musical Tribute, Shubert Theatre, New York City, 1973.

Side by Side by Sondheim, Music Box Theatre, New York City, 1977.

Marry Me a Little, Actors Playhouse, New York City, 1981.

Julie Wilson: From Weill to Sondheim—A Concert (one act devoted to Sondheim's work), Kaufman Theatre, New York City, 1987.

You're Gonna Love Tomorrow: A Stephen Sondheim Evening, New Playwrights Theatre, Washington, DC, 1987.

Stage Plays:

Getting Away with Murder, Broadhurst Theatre, New York City, 1996.

Film Scores:

Stavisky (also known as L'empire d'alexandre and Stavisky, il grande truffatore), Cinemation, 1974.

A Little Night Music (also known as Das Lacheln einer sommernacht), New World, 1977.

(With Dave Grusin) Reds, Paramount, 1981.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (also known as Sweeney Todd), DreamWorks, 2007.

Film Lyrics:

West Side Story, United Artists, 1961.

Gypsy, Warner Bros., 1962.

Film Song Lyrics:

"Something's Coming," Defending Your Life, 1991.

Film Songs:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, United Artists, 1966.

"Madame's Song," The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, 1976.

Airplane!, 1980.

Terms of Endearment, 1983.

Rhosyn a Rhith, 1986.

(With others) Dick Tracy (includes songs "Sooner or Later [I Always Get My Man]" and "What Can You Lose?"), Touchstone-Buena Vista, 1990.

Postcards from the Edge, 1990.

The Fisher King, 1991.

The Birdcage (also known as Birds of a Feather), United Artists, 1996.

A Simple Wish, 1997.

Afterglow, 1997.

In & Out, 1997.

Drop Dead Gorgeous, 1998.

Superstar, 1999.

Screenplays:

(With Anthony Perkins) The Last of Sheila, Warner Bros., 1973.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, DreamWorks, 2007.

Television Lyricist; Movies:

Gypsy, CBS, 1993.

Television Scores; Specials:

Passion, PBS, 1996.

Television Music and Lyrics; Specials:

(With Burt Shevelove) The Fabulous 50s, CBS, 1960.

Evening Primrose, ABC, 1966.

Annie, the Woman in the Life of a Man, CBS, 1970.

Sweeney Todd (also known as Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), Entertainment Channel, 1982.

Television Lyrics Only; Specials:

"Somewhere," Putting It Together—The Making of the Broadway Album, HBO, 1986.

Passion, PBS, 1996.

Television Music Only; Specials:

Time Warner Presents the Earth Day Special, ABC, 1990.

Television Music and Lyrics; Episodic:

"Follies in Concert," Great Performances, PBS, 1986.

"Sunday in the Park with George," Broadway on Showtime, Showtime, then American Playhouse, PBS, both 1986.

"The Saga of Lenny," included in "Bernstein at 70," Great Performances, PBS, 1989.

"A Little Night Music," Live from Lincoln Center, PBS, 1990.

"Into the Woods," Great Performances, PBS, 1991.

Television Lyrics Only; Episodic:

"Candide," Great Performances, PBS, 1986.

Television Episodes:

(With others) Topper, NBC, 1953-54.

The Last Word, CBS, 1957-1959.

OTHER SOURCES

Books:

Banfield, Stephen, Sonheim's Broadway Musicals, University of Michigan Press, 1993.

Contemporary Musicians, Vol. 8, Gale Research, 1992.

Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998.

Gordon, Joanne, Art Isn't Easy, Southern Illinois University Press, 1990.

Gordon, Joanne, ed., Stephen Sondheim: A Casebook, 1997.

Gottfried, Martin, Sondheim, 1993.

Secrest, Meryle, Stephen Sondheim: A Life, A. Knopf, 1998.

Zadan, Craig, Sondheim & Co., Macmillan, 1974.

Periodicals:

American Scholar, autumn, 2007, p. 109.

Insight, August 28, 1989, p. 59.

Macleans, December 24, 1984, p. 41.

New York Times, April 1, 1984.

Opera News, November, 1985, p. 18.

People, September 23, 1985, p. 78.

Variety, February 4, 1991, p. 95.

Vogue, April, 1984, p. 85.

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"Sondheim, Stephen 1930-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sondheim, Stephen 1930-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3069500203.html

"Sondheim, Stephen 1930-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3069500203.html

Sondheim, Stephen

Stephen Sondheim

Composer, lyricist

Friends With the Hammersteins

Established Reputation with Dance Musical

Extended Musical Limits

Assassins

Selected writings

Selected discography

Sources

If you told me to write a love song tonight, Broad-Iway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim told Samuel G. Freedman in the New York Times Magazine, Id have a lot of trouble. But if you tell me to write a love song about a girl with a red dress who goes into a bar and is on her fifth martini and is falling off her chair, thats a lot easier and it makes me free to say anything I want. Redefining the concept of American musicals, the composer is known for peopling his productions with complex characters, including murderous barbers, lascivious fairy-tale figures, and presidential assassins. While Sondheim has garnered numerous prestigious honors throughout his career, his works are sometimes considered controversial for their serious subject matter and have often elicited mixed response from reviewers. A writer for Opera News, though, stated that the richest, most complex voice in American music history does not serve up happy endings. [Sondheim] makes you think and feel and quite often, admit unpleasant truths. His songs are at once simple and multi-textured, easily grasped and elusive; the deeper you mine, the richer the lode.

Born March 22, 1930, in New York City, Sondheim grew up in the affluent atmosphere of Central Park West in Manhattan. His father was a dress manufacturer, and his mother was the firms fashion designer and an interior decorator. Although Sondheim played piano at four years old, his interest in theater began five years later when his father took him to a production of the Broadway musical Very Warm for May in 1939. The curtain went up and revealed a piano. A butler took a duster and brushed it up, tinkling the keys, Sondheim divulged to William A. Henry III in Time. I thought that was thrilling. The event was one of the happier moments in Sondheims childhood before his parents divorce. After his mother won custody of Sondheim, she denied the boy any contact with his father. She would have members of her family follow me to see if I met him in secret, Sondheim disclosed later in Time. She would telephone his apartment to see if I answered, then hang up. I was a substitute for him, and she took out all her anger and craziness on me. It was not a great relationship.

Friends With the Hammersteins

A few years after his parents divorced, Sondheim found a close friend in a boy his age named Jamie Hammerstein. Jamies father was lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote the songs for Very Warm for May as well as for many other Broadway hits, including South Pacific and Oklahoma! Invited to the Hammersteins family farm in Doyleston, Pennsylvania, when he was 12 years old,

For the Record

Bom Stephen Joshua Sondheim, March 22, 1930, in New York, NY; son of Herbert Sondheim (a dress manufacturer) and Janet Sondheim Leshin (a fashion designer and interior decorator; maiden name, Fox). Education: Williams College, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1950; graduate study in music composition and theory with Milton Babbitt for two years; studied privately with Oscar Hammerstein II

Lyricist and composer of American musicals, including West Side Story, 1957, Gypsy, 1959, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, 1962, Anyone Can Whistle, 1964, Do I Hear a Waltz, 1965, Company, 1970, Follies, 1971, A Little Night Music (includes Send in the Clowns), 1973, Pacific Overtures, 1976, Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 1979, Merrily We Roll Along, 1981, Sunday in the Park With George, 1984, Into the Woods (includes No One Is Alone), 1989, and Assassins, 1991. Lyricist and composer for Leonard Bernsteins Broadway production Candide, 1973, and for music for television and movies, including Evening Primrose, 1966, Reds, 1981, and Dick Tracy, 1990. Contributed to Barbra Streisands LP Broadway Album, 1985.

Awards: Numerous citations, including Grammy awards, Tony awards, and New York Drama Critics awards for best musical; Pulitzer Prize, 1985, for Sunday in the Park With George.

Addresses: Home 246 East 49th St., New York, NY 10017. Officec/o Flora Roberts, 65 East 55th St., New York, NY 10022.

Sondheim remained for the summer. He found a family substitute in the Hammersteins when his mother, who had bought a house in Doyleston that autumn, commuted to her job in Manhattan. Jamie Hammerstein told Time that by Christmas, Stephen was more a Hammerstein than a Sondheim. Surrogate father to the adolescent Sondheim, Oscar Hammerstein was also his musical mentor in the years that followed. After he wrote a musical entitled By George at boarding school, the 15-year-old Sondheim requested the elder Hammersteins opinion. I was never allowed to be self-indulgent, because I was brought up by a taskmaster from an early age, Sondheim related to Freedman. The first influence I had was a highly professional, highly rule-conscious man. He didnt say obey the rules, he just pointed them out. Sondheim revealed in Time that Hammerstein told him his novice musical was the worst thing I have ever readbut I didnt say it was untalented.

One of the most successful American lyricists, Hammerstein influenced Sondheims musical development over the intervening years until the young man graduated from Williams College. In 1950 Sondheim won the Hutchinson Prize, which enabled him to study structure and theory with avant-garde composer Milton Babbitt. During his fellowship with Babbitt, Sondheim told Freedman, he discovered his former and present mentor represented two different fields. One was theater, the other music. What I was learning from Milton was basic grammarsophisticated grammar, but grammar. It was a language, whereas what I learned from Oscar was what to do with language. Sondheim sought a career in show business after finishing his education. Off to a slow start, he went on audition after audition, and one stage show he wrote was called off upon the producers death. At one point in his early career, Sondheim found himself in Hollywood writing scripts for the television situation comedy Topper. The turning point in his career came when he was offered the opportunity to write the lyrics for the musical West Side Story in 1957.

Established Reputation with Dance Musical

Considered one of the masterpieces of the American theater, West Side Story established Sondheim as a prominent Broadway lyricist at the age of twenty-seven. He followed the successful show with Gypsy in 1959. Calling Gypsy the most perfectly achieved dance musical in the New York Times Magazine, Frank Rich postulated that Sondheim made his reputation with the dance musical. While 1962 marked the success of the burlesque comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sondheim was composer and lyricist for plays with varying degrees of acceptance over the next decades. His movement away from the traditional musical format of snappy tunes and happy endings toward a darker design offended critical sensibilities. While praising Sondheims brilliance, wrote Steven Holden in Atlantic, theater critics have routinely complained that his work is cold and decadent and called his music tuneless. Offbeat and experimental productions such as Anyone Can Whistle (1964), Do I Hear a Waltz?(1965), Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Pacific Overtures (1976), the operatic Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979), and Merrily We Roll Along (1981) brought Sondheim an intellectual cult following.

Extended Musical Limits

The world has finally caught up with Stephen Sondheim. After 20 years of wary regard as, variously, the savior of the American musical, a heartless antimelodist or a closet opera composer, Sondheimwho is all the above and much moreis currently on a roll on the New York musical scene, wrote Allan Rich in Newsweek with the appearance of Sondheims 1984 musical Sunday in the Park With George. A lyricist and composer who has been known to find inspiration in unlikely sources, Sondheim based Sunday in the Park With George on pointillist art. Portraying painter George Seurat and the characters from Seurats neo-impressionist work A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, the unusual musical was a commercial success as well as a prize winner. A writer for Time reported: From his big-time debut in 1957 as the lyricist of West Side Story to his 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Sunday in the Park With George , Sondheim has steadily pushed towardor beyondthe limits of what the score, the narrative, the very premise of a musical can be.

A new show by Stephen Sondheim is still the most exciting event in the American theater, wrote Jack Kroll in Newsweek in 1987 with the advent of Sondheims musical Into the Woods. Sondheim found the impetus for Into the Woods from child psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheims discussion of fairy tales in The Uses of Enchantment. Reviewers were divided in their opinion of the show, but advance ticket sales netting $2.3 million illustrated that Sondheim had found his audience. One of the songs, No One Is Alone, entered the ranks of standard Sondheim ballads. Throughout his career Sondheim has battled unfavorable comparisons with his mentor Hammerstein in many reviews. Into the Woods was an exception. Ash De Lorenzo noted in Vogue that the score of Into the Woods accomplishes what the score of Oklahoma! and Carousel did: it makes the whole piece come together. A circle has been completed.

Assassins

Sondheim followed Into the Woods with the musical Assassins. Reviewing the play in 1991, a writer for Newsweek cited the Sondheim collage of persons, including John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Squeaky Fromme, who murdered, or attempted to murder, U.S. presidents, the most audacious, far out and grotesque work of his career. A reviewer for Time reported that even fans of [Sondheims] acerbic wit and nonpareil invention wondered how such a show could be put together. The work amply, at times brilliantly, demonstrates how. The question that lingers is why. Robert Sandla in Theatre Crafts offered the challenge of the project as explanation for why Sondheim would produce the play. Put aside, for a moment, the queasiness you might feel when you learn that presidential assassins are the subject of a brand new musical. And consider, instead, the purely technical imperatives confronted by the designers of Assassins.

Dubbed Broadways brightest hope, Sondheim may yet become the giant he saw his teacher [Hammerstein] to beone who leaves our theater profoundly and permanently changed, New York Times Magazine reviewer Frank Rich prophesied in 1984. The subject of a book by Craig Zadan titled Sondheim & Company, which delves more into the composers career accomplishments than his life story, Sondheim is required reading in musical theater history. Not always praised but generally acknowledged for expanding the limits of the American musical, Sondheim alternately irritates and moves his audiences with songs and subject matter. Of course, Kroll proposed, Sondheim would write a musical about amoebas, or aardvarks.

Selected writings

Topper (television script), NBC, 1953.

Stephen Sondheims Crossword Puzzles, Harper, 1980.

Also author of other television scripts and screenplays. Contributor to books on theater and theatrical biographies, including Oscar Hammersteins biography Getting to Know Him, Random House, 1977. Contributor of crossword puzzles to New York magazine.

Selected discography

West Side Story, Columbia, 1957.

Gypsy, Columbia, 1959.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Capitol, 1962.

Anyone Can Whistle, Columbia, 1964.

Do I Hear a Waltz?, Columbia, 1965.

Company, Columbia, 1970.

Follies, Capitol, 1971.

A Little Night Music (includes Send in the Clowns), Columbia, 1973.

Sondheim: A Musical Tribute, 1973.

Pacific Overtures, RCA, 1976.

Side by Side by Sondheim, RCA, 1977.

Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, RCA, 1977.

Merrily We Roll Along, RCA, 1981.

Sunday in the Park With George, RCA, 1984.

Into the Woods, RCA, 1987.

Assasins, RCA, 1988.

Sources

Books

Zadan, Craig, Sondheim & Company, 2nd edition, Harper, 1986.

Periodicals

Atlantic, December 1984.

Library Journal, December 1986.

Newsweek, October 29, 1984; November, 16, 1987; February 4, 1991; June 22, 1992.

New York, December, 8, 1986; August 20, 1990. New Yorker, July 2, 1990.

New York Times Magazine, April 1, 1984; October 21, 1984.

Opera News, November 1985.

People, February 17, 1986; March 17, 1986; October 1, 1990.

Psychology Today, January/February 1989.

Stereo Review, October 1982; October 1985.

Theatre Crafts, March 1991.

Time, June 16, 1986; November 16, 1987; December 7, 1987; September 25, 1989; February 4, 1991.

U.S. News& World Report, February 1, 1988.

Vogue, February 1988.

Marjorie Burgess

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Burgess, Marjorie. "Sondheim, Stephen." Contemporary Musicians. 1993. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Burgess, Marjorie. "Sondheim, Stephen." Contemporary Musicians. 1993. Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3492600078.html

Burgess, Marjorie. "Sondheim, Stephen." Contemporary Musicians. 1993. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3492600078.html

Sondheim, Stephen

Stephen Sondheim

Born: March 22, 1930
New York, New York

American composer

Stephen Sondheim redefined the Broadway musical form with his creative and award winning productions. He continues to be a major force in the shaping of the musical theater.

Early years

Stephen Sondheim was born on March 22, 1930, to upper-middle-class parents, Herbert and Janet Sondheim. His father was a dress manufacturer and his mother was a fashion designer and interior decorator. He studied piano for two years while very young and continued his interest in the musical stage throughout his education.

Sondheim's parents divorced in 1942 and his mother took up residence in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, which was near the summertime residence of Oscar Hammerstein II (18951960). As a friend of Hammerstein's son, Sondheim was able to ask the famous librettist (a person who writes the words for a musical or opera) for an evaluation of his first stage work, a high school production produced at the age of fifteen.

Hammerstein's critical evaluation of By George began the four-year relationship that was decisive in formulating the young Sondheim's style. Sondheim became Hammerstein's personal assistant and gained entry into the world of professional theater.

While attending Williams College in Massachusetts, Sondheim performed duties in the preparation and rehearsals of the Rogers and Hammerstein productions of South Pacific and The King and I. Upon graduation he won the Hutchinson Prize, which enabled him to study composition at Princeton University.

Early successes

Sondheim began his professional career in television by writing scripts for the Topper and The Last Word series. He also composed incidental music (minor pieces used as background or between scenes) for the Broadway musical Girls of Summer.

Shortly after that Sondheim made the acquaintance of Arthur Laurents, who introduced him to Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein (19181990) as the possible song writer for West Side Story, which was produced in 1957. The young man found himself involved in one of the most successful shows ever produced on Broadway. However, in an interview Sondheim gave to National Public Radio (NPR) in 2002, he said that, in spite of the success of West Side Story, he is embarrassed by the lyrics he wrote for the show because of their lack of artistic merit.

Sondheim followed this success by working on the Broadway production of Gypsy in 1959, distinguishing himself as one of the great young talents in American musical theater.

Sondheim, intent on broadening his talents, sought productions where he could use his musical as well as lyrical expertise. He produced A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1962, a farce (broad and unsophisticated humor) based on the plays of Plautus (c. 254184 b.c.e.). The show had an impressive run of almost one thousand performances, won the Tony Award for Best Musical, and was made into a successful film in 1966. Sondheim followed with two less successful ventures: Anyone Can Whistle (1964) and Do I Hear a Waltz (1965). Although both failed commercially, Sondheim contributed songs of high quality.

Develops his own musicals

In 1970 Sondheim produced Company, which once again won him unanimous (an agreement by all) praise from the critics. The production was awarded the Drama Critics and Tony Award for Best Musical of the season, and Sondheim received awards for the best composer (writer of music) and best lyricist (song writer). One critic commented that Company "is absolutely first rate the freshest in years. This is a wonderful musical score, the one that Broadway has long needed."

The following year Sondheim produced Follies, a retrospective (a look back) musical about the Ziegfield Follies, large Broadway productions of the 1920s. The composer blended the nostalgia (sentimental feelings for the past) of popular songs of the past with his own style of sentimental ballad. He was awarded both the Drama Critics and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical of 1971.

In A Little Night Music (1973) Sondheim exposed his strong background in classical music. Critics were reminded of several classical composers: Gustav Mahler (18601911), Maurice Ravel (18751937), Franz Liszt (18111886), and Sergey Rachmaninoff (18731943). The musical won the Tony Award and included his first commercial hit song, "Send in the Clowns."

Noted as a relentless (untiring, unwilling to stop) innovator, Sondheim worked with Hal Prince on Pacific Overtures (1976). In an attempt to relate the westernization of Japan with the commercialized present, Sondheim fused the unlikely elements of Haiku poetry (unrhymed verse of three lines that are made up of seventeen syllables), Japanese pentatonic scales (musical scales made up of only five notes), and Kabuki theater (a form of traditional classical Japanese drama) with modern stage techniques in a production that was hailed as a successful Broadway hit. It was followed by Sweeney Todd (1979), the melodramatic story of the barber of Fleet Street (London) who conspired with the neighborhood baker to supply her with enough barbershop victims for her meat pies. Less funny than tragic, Sweeney Todd explored the dark side of the nineteenth-century English social system.

Artistic approach

Sondheim's talent derives from his ability to cross different types of music and theater, thus offering Broadway audiences works of remarkable craft. He deals with unexpected subjects that challenge and test the form of the American musical. Sondheim explores issues of contemporary life: marriage and relationships in Company; madness and the human condition in Anyone Can Whistle; nostalgia and sentiment in Follies; Western imperialism (extension of power) in Pacific Overtures; and injustice and revenge in Sweeney Todd.

Sondheim avoids filler, or needless content, in his lyrics. He concentrates on direct impact through verbal interplay. His lyrics are witty without ever sacrificing honesty for superficially (shallow and unimportant) clever rhyme. Similarly, he maintains his musical individuality even while operating in the adopted Eastern musical style of Pacific Overtures. Sondheim's consistent ability to merge words and music that hint at the deeper personality of his characters distinguishes him as a composer of rare ingenuity (clever at inventing) and talent.

Side by Side by Sondheim, a musical tribute to the artist, was successfully produced in 1976. Sondheim's later works included the film score for Reds (1981) and Sunday in the Park with George (1984), which won a 1985 Pulitzer Prize. Into the Woods was another musical hit on Broadway in 1987.

In recent years many of Sondheim's earlier projects have been reproduced and have enjoyed success in cities in the United States and in Europe. Sondheim's first musical Front Porch in Flatbush, which first opened in 1955 on Broadway, was put on in Chicago, Illinois, in 1999. In 2001 Follies, a musical that had not been on Broadway since opening in 1971, returned to the New York theater district. In 2000 Sondheim won the best new musical award from the twenty-fifth annual Laurence Olivier Awards for Merrily We Roll Along. The show had first opened in 1981 on Broadway but was new to London, England. Sondheim's musicals have thus stood the test of time, as they continue to entertain theatergoers worldwide.

For More Information

Gottfried, Martin. Sondheim. Rev. ed. New York: H. N. Abrams, 2000.

Green, Stanley. The World of Musical Comedy. San Diego, CA: A. S. Barnes, 1980.

Secrest, Meryle. Stephen Sondheim: A Life. New York: Knopf, 1998.

Zadan, Craig. Sondheim and Company. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

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"Sondheim, Stephen." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Sondheim, Stephen." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2003. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3437500716.html

Sondheim, Stephen

STEPHEN SONDHEIM


Born: New York, New York, 22 March 1930

Genre: Musical Theater

Best-selling album since 1990: Passion (1994)


Getting his start as a lyricist in the late 1950s, Stephen Sondheim had by the 1970s become the most influential Broadway theater composer of his generation, changing the way in which the musical as an art form is understood and appreciated. Sondheim is the sole modern Broadway composer whose work withstands comparison to that of theatrical tunesmiths and lyricists of the past such as Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Beyond the complexity and richness of his music, Sondheim's greatness lies in his daring pursuit of subject matter previously considered off-limits for Broadway musicals. Exploring themes of obsession, evil, the fragility of human relationships, and the dissociation and cynicism of modern life, Sondheim has pushed the musical form in new, startling directions. Yet his work evinces respect for Broadway's long tradition of escapism and fun; far from depressing, Sondheim's musicals often display a darkly humorous edge. Always more popular with critics than with mainstream audiences, who have tended to prefer more accessible, pop-oriented composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sondheim has remained active in the 1990s and 2000s, creating challenging new musicals, contributing to Hollywood film soundtracks, and influencing a new generation of theater composers.


Early Life and Success

Born to a wealthy New York manufacturing family of German-Jewish descent, Sondheim endured an unhappy childhood after his father left to live with a girlfriend. The scars from that experiencecoming when Sondheim was only tenalong with the influence of a dominating mother, later found voice in his best-known work, particularly through themes of alienation and isolation. In his early teens Sondheim's life changed after his mother moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Soon Sondheim had fallen under the creative influence of his new neighbor Hammerstein, then working on a show, Oklahoma! (1943), that proved to be a landmark of American musical theater. After graduating from Williams College, where he won the Hutchinson Prize for Music Composition, Sondheim studied with the renowned modern classical composer Milton Babbitt before getting hired to write lyrics for the Broadway musical West Side Story (1957). As a result of the show's great success, Sondheim was also recruited as a lyricist for Gypsy (1959). Based on the memoirs of famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, the musical was a commercial hit and an artistic triumph, paving the way for Sondheim's first success as both a composer and lyricist, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962). The show's lyrical intelligence and racy sense of humor proved that a successful Broadway musical could be both entertaining and challenging.

Peak Artistic Years

Working with the Broadway director Harold Prince, Sondheim embarked upon his greatest artistic period in the early 1970s, composing a series of groundbreaking musicals: Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973) and Sweeney Todd (1979). While Company, a modern look at love and relationships through the eyes of a thirty-five-year-old bachelor, brought a new degree of wit and sophistication to the Broadway stage, Sweeney Todd saw Sondheim's humor take on a dark, macabre edgethe musical told the story of a revenge-seeking barber who kills his customers. A Little Night Music contains one of Sondheim's best-known songs, "Send in the Clowns," a wistful distillation of romantic confusion that became a pop and jazz standard. During the 1980s Sondheim continued experimenting with form and structure: Merrily We Roll Along (1981), for example, moves backward in time, tracing the life of a composer from adulthood to youth. Unfortunately, such experiments did not endear Sondheim to the Broadway theatergoing public: Merrily We Roll Along ran for only sixteen performances

After presenting two highly regarded Broadway musicals, Sunday in the Park with George (1984) and Into the Woods (1987), Sondheim turned to the lower profile world of off-Broadway for Assassins (1990), one of his darkest, most compelling works. Produced by the noted New York theater company Playwrights Horizons, the musical surveys American assassinations through the ages. It features historical characters such as Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and John Hinckley, who in 1981 tried to kill President Ronald Reagan. In a deliberately perverse move, Sondheim presents "Unworthy of Your Love," a duet between Hinckley and President Gerald Ford's attempted assassin, Squeaky Fromme, as a cheerful, Top-40 style love ballad. Beyond its unusual subject matter, Assassins challenges audiences through its rejection of a linear plot; instead, its scenes are arranged according to thematic references. The famous Presidential march, "Hail to the Chief," is used throughout the musical as a means of linking characters and scenes; in Sondheim's typically ironic fashion, music familiarly associated with reverence becomes a commentary on political insecurity and death.


Challenging Audiences in the 1990s

Sondheim turned to high-profile film work in the 1990s, contributing songs for the Hollywood movies Dick Tracy (1990) and The Birdcage (1996). Nevertheless, he continued to explore anxious, dark themes with the Broadway musical, Passion (1994). The story of a sickly, unattractive woman obsessively in love with an Army soldierhimself involved with a married womanPassion is a compelling study of desire and transformation. A modest hit that ran for six months, Passion was perhaps too challenging musically and thematically to achieve widespread success. During the remainder of the 1990s and early 2000s Sondheim largely focused on teaching, although his earlier work was celebrated in several Broadway revivals, including a 2002 production of Into the Woods that starred the pop singer and actress Vanessa Williams. After many delays and title changes, Sondheim's new musical, Bounce, was scheduled to open at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in the summer of 2003. Bounce, which reunites Sondheim with director Prince, is the story of Addison and Wilson Mizner, two brothers who led picaresque lives as con artists, entrepreneurs, and celebrities during the early twentieth century.

By the turn of the millennium, Sondheim was widely acknowledged as the most important living artist in musical theater, his work influencing younger composers such as Michael John LaChiusa, Adam Guettel, and Jason Robert Brown. Hailed for his daring, complex use of theme and structure, Sondheim raised the musical form to a new level of artistic ambition and achievement, stimulating audiences with his invention, humor, and intelligence.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Original Broadway and off-Broadway cast recordings: West Side Story (Columbia, 1957); Gypsy (Columbia, 1959); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Angel, 1962); Anyone Can Whistle (Columbia, 1964); Company (Columbia, 1970); Follies (Angel, 1971); A Little Night Music (Columbia, 1973); Sweeney Todd (RCA Victor, 1979); Sunday in the Park with George (RCA Victor, 1984); Into the Woods (RCA Victor, 1987); Assassins (RCA Victor, 1991); Passion (Angel, 1994). Film soundtracks : Music from and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy (Sire, 1990); The Birdcage (Edeltone, 1996).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

M. Secrest, Sondheim: A Life (New York: 1998).

WEBSITE:

www.sondheim.com.

david freeland

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Freeland, David. "Sondheim, Stephen." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Freeland, David. "Sondheim, Stephen." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3428400496.html

Freeland, David. "Sondheim, Stephen." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. 2004. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3428400496.html

Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim

Active in major Broadway productions of American musical theater beginning in 1957, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim (born 1930) redefined the Broadway musical form with his innovative and award winning productions. He continued to be a major force in the shaping of this genre into the 1980s.

American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim is mainly known for his stage works, which included A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962); Anyone Can Whistle (1964); Company (1970); Follies (1971); and A Little Night Music (1973). He is known for his collaborations with Leonard Bernstein as lyricist for West Side Story (1957) and Candide (1974), and with Richard Rogers on Do I Hear a Waltz (1965). Sondheim's partnership with the director/producer Hal Prince resulted in Tony Awards for Best Musical Scores for three consecutive years (1971-1973), and Pacific Overtures (1976) was hailed as a landmark in American musical theater because of its masterful use of traditional Japanese theater elements. In 1984, Sondheim paired himself with James Lapine to put together Sunday in the Park with George, a musical inspired by a Georges Seurat painting.

Sondheim was born into a prosperous business family on March 22, 1930. He studied piano for two years while very young and continued his interest in the musical stage throughout his education. Sondheim's parents divorced in 1942 and his mother took up residence in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, close to the summertime residence of Oscar Hammerstein II. As a friend of Hammerstein's son, Sondheim was able to ask the famous librettist for an evaluation of his first stage work, a high school production produced at the age of 15. Hammerstein's critical evaluation of By George initiated a four-year relationship that was decisive in formulating the young artist's style. As Hammerstein's personal assistant, Sondheim gained entry into the world of professional theater.

While attending Williams College he performed duties in the preparation and rehearsals of the Rogers and Hammerstein productions of South Pacific and The King and I. Upon graduation he won the Hutchinson Prize, which enabled him to study composition at Princeton University with Milton Babbitt.

Sondheim began his professional career in television by writing scripts for the Topper and The Last Word series and incidental music for the Broadway musical Girls of Summer. Shortly thereafter he made the acquaintance of Arthur Laurents, who introduced him to Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein as the possible lyricist for West Side Story, which was produced in 1957. The young songwriter found himself involved in one of the most successful shows ever produced on Broadway. Sondheim followed this success by collaborating on the Broadway production of Gypsy in 1959, distinguishing himself as one of the great young talents in American musical theater.

Intent on broadening his talents, Sondheim sought productions where he could use his musical as well as lyrical expertise. He produced A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1962 … a bawdy farce based on the plays of Plautus. The show had an impressive run of almost 1,000 performances, won the Tony Award for Best Musical, and was made into a successful film in 1966.

Sondheim followed with two less successful ventures: Anyone Can Whistle (1964) and Do I Hear a Waltz (1965). Although both failed commercially, Sondheim contributed songs of high quality.

In 1970 Sondheim produced Company, which once again won him unanimous praise from the critics. The production was awarded the Drama Critics and Tony Awards for Best Musical of the season, and Sondheim received awards for the best composer and best lyricist. One critic commented that Company "is absolutely first rate … the freshest … in years … This is a wonderful musical score, the one that Broadway has long needed…." The following year Sondheim produced Follies, a retrospective of the Ziegfield Follies, in which the composer blended the nostalgia of popular songs of the past with his own style of sentimental ballad. He was awarded both the Drama Critics and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical of 1971.

In A Little Night Music (1973) Sondheim exposed his strong background in classical music. It was described by critics as reminiscent of Mahler, Strauss, Ravel, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff. Another Tony Award winner, A Little Night Music also included his first commercial hit song, "Send in the Clowns."

Noteworthy as a relentless innovator, Sondheim collaborated with Hal Prince on Pacific Overtures (1976). In an attempt to relate the westernization of Japan with the commercialized present, Sondheim fused the unlikely elements of Haiku poetry, Japanese pentatonic scales, and Kabuki theater with contemporary stage techniques in a production that was hailed as a successful Broadway hit. He followed this with Sweeney Todd (1979), the melodramatic story of the demon barber of Fleet Street who conspired with the neighborhood baker to supply her with sufficient barber-shop victims for her meat pies. Less funny than tragic, Sweeney Todd explored the dark side of the 19th-century English social system.

Sondheim's talent derived from his ability to cross genres of music and theater to offer Broadway audiences works of remarkable craft on unexpected subjects that challenged and tested the form of the American musical. Sondheim explored issues of contemporary life; marriage and relationships in Company; madness and the human condition in Anyone Can Whistle; nostalgia and sentiment in Follies; Western imperialism in Pacific Overtures; and injustice and revenge in Sweeney Todd.

Sondheim avoided filler in his lyrics and concentrated on direct impact through verbal interplay. His lyrics were witty without his ever sacrificing integrity for superficially clever rhyme. Similarly, he maintained his musical individuality even while operating in the adopted Eastern musical style of Pacific Overtures. Sondheim's consistent ability to merge words and music that hint at the deeper personality beneath the prototype character distinguished him as a composer of rare ingenuity and talent.

Side by Side by Sondheim, a musical tribute to the artist, was successfully produced in 1976. Sondheim's later works included the film score for Reds (1981) and Sunday in the Park with George (1984), which won a 1985 Pulitzer Prize. Into the Woods was another musical hit on Broadway in 1987.

Sondheim participated on the council of the Dramatists Guild and served as its president from 1973 to 1981. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1983. He won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" from the movie Dick Tracy.

Sondheim composed the music for the ABC television presentation Time Warner Presents the Earth Day Special (1990). In 1992, he declined a National Medal of Arts Award, from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Further Reading

The reader should consult the excellent biography Sondheim and Company (1974) by Craig Zadan; David Ewen's Popular American Composers (1st Supplement, 1972); The World of Musical Comedy (1980) by Stanley Green; and "The Words and Music of Stephen Sondheim" by Samuel G. Freedman, which appeared in the New York Times Magazine on April 1, 1984. □

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Sondheim, Stephen Joshua

Stephen Joshua Sondheim (sônd´hīm), 1930–, American composer and lyricist, b. New York City. As a young man, he studied lyric writing with Oscar Hammerstein 2d, and early in his career he wrote lyrics for Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story (1957) and collaborated with Jule Styne in the writing of Gypsy (1959). Later he composed his own music and lyrics for such musicals as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), and Merrily We Roll Along (1981). His later works include Sunday in the Park with George (1984; Pulitzer Prize), Into the Woods (1987), Assassins (1991), Passion (1994), and Road Show (2008). Widely regarded as the most important figure in the American musical theater of the late 20th cent., Sondheim has expanded the boundaries of lyric writing and subject matter, introduced complex characters and situations, brought a mordant wit and sophisticated lyricism to his words and music, and in the process reinvented the Broadway musical.

See his collected lyrics (with his commentary), Vol. I (1954–1981), Finishing the Hat (2010) and Vol. II (1981–2011), Look, I Made a Hat (2011); biographies by G. Martin (1993) and M. Secrest (1998); studies by J. Gordon (1990, 1997).

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"Sondheim, Stephen Joshua." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Sondheim, Stephen (Joshua)

Sondheim, Stephen (Joshua) (b NY, 1930). Amer. composer and lyric-writer. Wrote words for Bernstein's West Side Story (1957), Jule Styne's Gypsy (1959), Shevelove and Gelbart's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), and Rodgers's Do I Hear a Waltz? (1965). Comp. successful musicals incl. Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday in the Park with George (1985), Into the Woods (1987), Assassins (1990), Passion (1994).

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MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Sondheim, Stephen (Joshua)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Sondheim, Stephen (Joshua)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O76-SondheimStephenJoshua.html

MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Sondheim, Stephen (Joshua)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O76-SondheimStephenJoshua.html

Sondheim, Stephen

Sondheim, Stephen (1930– ) US composer and lyricist. Sondheim made his mark on Broadway in 1957 with the lyrics for Leonard Bernstein' West Side Story. His first success as a lyricist-composer was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962). Sondheim's reputation was enhanced by works such as A Little Night Music (1972), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), and Assassins (1991).

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