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Stephen Sondheim Awarded 2013 Edward MacDowell Medal

Stephen Sondheim

Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal in a public ceremony during the annual Medal Day celebration at The MacDowell Colony in Petersborough, New Hampshire, yesterday.

The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s first artist residency program, has awarded the medal annually since 1960 to an individual artist who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her field. This year marks the first time a luminary has been chosen from the realm of musical theatre. Sondheim joins a notable list of past Medal recipients, including Robert Frost (1962), Georgia O’Keeffe (1972), Leonard Bernstein (1987), and Alice Munro (2006).

"I am not only humbled and privileged, I am astonished to be in the company. I am even more astonished to be the third oldest recipient," said Sondheim in his acceptance speech, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports. "Only Georgia O'Keeffe and Chuck Jones were humbled and privileged later than I." He went on to say: "Although I may be among the oldest of the medalists, I take genuine pride in being the first to represent the former runt of the arts, musical comedy ... I would like to accept this award on behalf of Oscar [Hammerstein II] and all of his descendants who made the category possible, including myself."

Writer Frank Rich, chairman of the Edward MacDowell Medal Selection Committee, introduced Sondheim at the ceremony. In an earlier statement marking the announcement of the award, Rich said: “I speak for all of us on the selection committee in saying that we are thrilled that Stephen Sondheim will be the first recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal to be honored for work in the field of musical theater. No artist has made a larger contribution to this quintessential American art form in the modern era than Sondheim has, and no artist could be more deserving of this accolade."

Joining Rich on the selection committee were composer and author Mary Rodgers Guettel, director and playwright James Lapine, and MacDowell Colony Chairman and author Michael Chabon, a MacDowell Fellow, who presented the Medal along with Susan Davenport Austin, president of The MacDowell Colony Board of Directors, and Executive Director Cheryl Young.

In 1983, Stephen Sondheim was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which awarded him the Gold Medal for Music in 2006. In 1990 he was appointed the first Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University and was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. Sondheim is on the Council of the Dramatists Guild, the national association of playwrights, composers and lyricists, having served as its President from 1973 to 1981. Sondheim's collected lyrics have been published in two volumes: Finishing the Hat (2010) and Look, I Made a Hat (2011). In 2010, the Broadway theater formerly known as Henry Miller's Theatre was renamed in his honor.

Nonesuch Records has released a number of cast recordings of Stephen Sondheim's work, including his latest work, Road Show, and, most recently, the first Broadway revival of A Little Night Music (2010).

For more on the Edward MacDowell Medal and The MacDowell Colony, visit



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