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Stephen Sondheim Featured in the Guardian; His "Finishing the Hat" Named BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week

Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim was the subject of a feature article in the Guardian this weekend, as part of the paper's "A life in ..." series. The composer spoke with the Guardian's Emma Brockes about his life and career as reflected in his first-ever book of collected lyrics, Finishing the Hat, which has topped many a year's-best list, not least the New York Times Sunday Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2010.

The object for the songwriter, Sondheim says in the article, is "making clear to an audience why you've written what you've written, and what it's about. Then if they like it, great. If they don't like it, fine. But if they don't like it because they don't understand it, that's bad. That is the writer's fault. If you write it and it's clear and they don't like it, that's not your fault. That's what art is about."

You can read the complete article at


Finishing the Hat
is the Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4. Every weekday this week, starting today, the station will feature readings from the book by Sondheim and actress Juliet Stevenson. In today's episode, Sondheim reflects on the early influence of his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein, and the collaboration with Leonard Bernstein on West Side Story came about.

Learn more and listen online at


Sondheim was the guest on The Colbert Report on Comedy Central last week. He and Stephen Colbert discussed Finishing the Hat, making way for Colbert, in his inimitable style, to critique Sondheim's lyrics for "Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Music and offer an alternative ending verse of his own. You can watch the complete episode online at


Earlier this year, of course, Sondheim celebrated his 80th birthday, an occasion that has been marked in many ways throughout the year. The New York Philharmonic's birthday concert for Sondheim at Lincoln Center was broadcast on PBS last month as part of the Great Performances series and is available on DVD and Blu-ray. The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Neal Justin places the Sondheim! The Birthday Concert at No. 3 on his list of the Top 10 TV Moments of the Year.

"In a year of great musical moments, including Bruce Springsteen's performance of 'Because the Night' on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Paul McCartney's version of 'A Day in the Life' on SNL," Justin writes, "nothing topped the spectacle of Broadway's greatest divas, including Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald and Elaine Stritch, each taking their turn at a Sondheim classic."



To pick up a copy of any of Sondheim's Nonesuch albums, visit the Nonesuch Store, where all CD, LPs, and DVDs are 33% of through New Year's in celebration of the store's 3rd anniversary.


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