Composer and Lyricist Stephen Sondheim Is Useless at 91

Stephen Sondheim has died, in accordance to his close friend and law firm F. Richard Pappas. The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and lyricist, known for Broadway displays which includes Company, Sunday in the Park with George, Follies, Into the Woods, and Sweeney Todd, was 91 a long time previous. 

Stephen Joshua Sondheim was born in New York Metropolis on March 22, 1930. An only kid, Sondheim experienced a privileged, if emotionally vacuous childhood: “I grew up solely, as just one good friend puts it, as an ‘institutionalized youngster,’” he advised Frank Loaded, “in that I was introduced up both by a cook dinner, a nanny or a boarding university or camp.” Still at ten, he fulfilled the librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, a good friend of his parents’, who before long assumed the function of the two a surrogate father and a specialist mentor. “When I was fifteen, I wrote a clearly show for George College, the Mates university I went to,” Sondheim recalled in 1997. “I was confident that Rodgers and Hammerstein couldn’t wait to create it, so I gave it to Oscar and asked him to read it as if he did not know me.” Hammerstein’s evaluation of By George started “right from the initial phase path,” Sondheim continued. “I in all probability realized a lot more about crafting songs that afternoon than I learned the relaxation of my daily life. He taught me how to framework a tune, what a character was, what a scene was he taught me how to explain to a story, how not to inform a story, how to make phase directions practical … From then on, until finally the working day he died, I showed him almost everything I wrote.”

In 1946, Sondheim matriculated to Williams Faculty, where he examined music. “I experienced generally imagined that producing new music was all about sitting in your penthouse or your studio until this woman muse twitters about your head,” he told James Lipton. “[Music professor] Robert Barrow was conversing about top tones and diatonic scales, and I fell in really like. He took all the secret out of music and taught craft.” In 1957, he had his to start with big split with West Aspect Tale, for which playwright Arthur Laurents employed Sondheim as a lyricist. Directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins with a rating by Leonard Bernstein, West Side Story ran for 732 performances and, in 1961, it was tailored to an Academy-Award profitable movie co-directed by Robbins and Robert Clever. That commission was promptly followed by Gypsy, also directed and choreographed by Robbins and created by Laurents, with Jule Styne composing. A further strike, Gypsy opened in 1959 and ran for 702 performances. It, way too, was created into a motion picture, directed by Mervyn LeRoy and unveiled in 1962.

Sondheim’s up coming shows—1962’s A Humorous Thing Happened On the Way to the Discussion board, 1964’s Everyone Can Whistle, and 1965’s Do I Hear a Waltz?—which featured each his audio and his lyrics, were much more coolly received. In 2013, Frank Loaded explained attending a Washington, D.C. tryout for A Funny Matter, which was primarily based on farces by the ancient Roman playwright Plautus: “Its critiques have been dreadful: The critic at the Put up compared it unfavorably to an ‘infinitely more zestful’ varsity revue he’d just found at Georgetown University. I went to the past Saturday matinée of the operate at the Nationwide Theatre, exactly where I was startled to discover a phenomenon I would afterwards find at other Sondheim musicals now deemed classics—an empty household.” Even though A Funny Matter would earn an armload of Tonys—for Most effective Musical, Best Actor, Finest Supporting Actor (David Burns), Greatest Guide, and Most effective Director—Sondheim’s score was shut out. (Crueler nevertheless had been the fates of Any person Can Whistle and Do I Hear a Waltz even though the latter managed 220 performances, the former ran for only nine.)

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