Composer and Lyricist Stephen Sondheim Dies at 91

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Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim died at his home in Connecticut today at the age of 91. "An intellectually rigorous artist who perpetually sought new creative paths, Mr. Sondheim was the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century," writes the New York Times in its obituary. Several Broadway, film, and original cast productions of his works have been recorded for Nonesuch Records, including A Little Night Music, Road Show, Sweeney Todd, Company, Bounce, Into the Woods, The Frogs, Evening Primrose, Saturday Night, and Gypsy. His songs have also been featured on Nonesuch albums by Mandy Patinkin, Audra McDonald, and Dawn Upshaw.

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Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim died at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut, today at the age of 91. "An intellectually rigorous artist who perpetually sought new creative paths, Mr. Sondheim was the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century," writes the New York Times in its obituary.

Stephen Sondheim has written the music and lyrics for Bounce (2003), Passion (1994), Assassins (1991), Into the Woods (1987), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sweeney Todd (1979), Pacific Overtures (1976), The Frogs (1974), A Little Night Music (1973), Follies (1971; revised in London, 1987), Company (1970), Anyone Can Whistle (1964), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), and Saturday Night (1954; first production in London, 1997; New York, 2000), as well as lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), Do I Hear a Waltz? (1965), and additional lyrics for Candide (1973). Side by Side by Sondheim (1976), Marry Me a Little (1981), You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow (1983), and Putting It Together (1992) are anthologies of his work as composer and lyricist. For films, he has composed the scores of Stavisky (1974) and Reds (1981) as well as songs for Dick Tracy (1990), for which he won an Academy Award. He also wrote songs for the television production Evening Primrose (1966), co-authored the film The Last of Sheila (1973) and the play Getting Away with Murder (1996), and provided incidental music for the plays The Girls of Summer (1956), Invitation to a March (1961), and Twigs (1971). He has won Tony Awards for Best Score for a Musical for Passion, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Follies, and Company. All of these shows won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, as did Pacific Overtures and Sunday in the Park with George, the last also receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1985). 

Several of Stephen Sondheim's works were recorded for Nonesuch Records: the 2010 Broadway revival of A Little Night Music; the 2009 original cast recording of Road Show; the soundtrack to Tim Burton's 2007 film of Sweeney Todd; the 2007 Broadway cast recording of Company; the 2005 Broadway cast recording of Sweeney Todd; the 2004 original cast recording of Bounce; the 2002 Broadway revival of Into the Woods; the first-ever recording of The Frogs paired with a new recording of his 1966 score Evening Primrose in 2001; the original New York cast of Saturday Night in 2000; and the 1989 Broadway revival of Gypsy, for which he wrote the lyrics. His songs have been featured on a number of Nonesuch recordings, including Mandy Patinkin's Children and Art (2019), Mandy Patinkin Sings Sondheim (2002), Kidults (2001), Oscar & Steve (1995), and Experiment (1994); Audra McDonald's Go Back Home (2013) and How Glory Goes (2000); and Dawn Upshaw's I Wish It So (1994). You can hear complete playlists of all of those recordings here.

Sondheim was born in 1930 and raised in New York City. He graduated from Williams College, winning the Hutchinson Prize for Music Composition, after which he studied theory and composition with Milton Babbitt. He 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, and in 1983 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1990, he was appointed the first Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theater at Oxford University and in 1993 was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2015.

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  • Friday, November 26, 2021
    Composer and Lyricist Stephen Sondheim Dies at 91

    Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim died at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut, today at the age of 91. "An intellectually rigorous artist who perpetually sought new creative paths, Mr. Sondheim was the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century," writes the New York Times in its obituary.

    Stephen Sondheim has written the music and lyrics for Bounce (2003), Passion (1994), Assassins (1991), Into the Woods (1987), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sweeney Todd (1979), Pacific Overtures (1976), The Frogs (1974), A Little Night Music (1973), Follies (1971; revised in London, 1987), Company (1970), Anyone Can Whistle (1964), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), and Saturday Night (1954; first production in London, 1997; New York, 2000), as well as lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), Do I Hear a Waltz? (1965), and additional lyrics for Candide (1973). Side by Side by Sondheim (1976), Marry Me a Little (1981), You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow (1983), and Putting It Together (1992) are anthologies of his work as composer and lyricist. For films, he has composed the scores of Stavisky (1974) and Reds (1981) as well as songs for Dick Tracy (1990), for which he won an Academy Award. He also wrote songs for the television production Evening Primrose (1966), co-authored the film The Last of Sheila (1973) and the play Getting Away with Murder (1996), and provided incidental music for the plays The Girls of Summer (1956), Invitation to a March (1961), and Twigs (1971). He has won Tony Awards for Best Score for a Musical for Passion, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Follies, and Company. All of these shows won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, as did Pacific Overtures and Sunday in the Park with George, the last also receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1985). 

    Several of Stephen Sondheim's works were recorded for Nonesuch Records: the 2010 Broadway revival of A Little Night Music; the 2009 original cast recording of Road Show; the soundtrack to Tim Burton's 2007 film of Sweeney Todd; the 2007 Broadway cast recording of Company; the 2005 Broadway cast recording of Sweeney Todd; the 2004 original cast recording of Bounce; the 2002 Broadway revival of Into the Woods; the first-ever recording of The Frogs paired with a new recording of his 1966 score Evening Primrose in 2001; the original New York cast of Saturday Night in 2000; and the 1989 Broadway revival of Gypsy, for which he wrote the lyrics. His songs have been featured on a number of Nonesuch recordings, including Mandy Patinkin's Children and Art (2019), Mandy Patinkin Sings Sondheim (2002), Kidults (2001), Oscar & Steve (1995), and Experiment (1994); Audra McDonald's Go Back Home (2013) and How Glory Goes (2000); and Dawn Upshaw's I Wish It So (1994). You can hear complete playlists of all of those recordings here.

    Sondheim was born in 1930 and raised in New York City. He graduated from Williams College, winning the Hutchinson Prize for Music Composition, after which he studied theory and composition with Milton Babbitt. He 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, and in 1983 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1990, he was appointed the first Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theater at Oxford University and in 1993 was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2015.

    Journal Articles:Artist News

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