Remembering Stephen Sondheim, Giant of American Musical Theater

Share This:

Stephen Sondheim via his Facebook page

If you were to try to list the greatest composers of musical theater on one hand, it would be an impossible task to do so without including Stephen Sondheim. Most likely, he’d be at the very top. And if you were to attempt to select just five among his volume of classic works, you would invariably be forced to leave out several favorites. The legendary composer and lyricist died November 26, 2021, of cardiovascular disease at his home in Roxbury, Conn., at age 91.

The giant’s enormous legacy of works reads like a list of America’s greatest musicals. His lyrics includes those for West Side Story (with music by Leonard Bernstein), A Little Night Music, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park With George (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama), Gypsy (with music by Jules Styne), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, just to name a few.

Sondheim‘s accolades include nine Tony Awards (including one for Lifetime Achievement). They should just rename the honor the Stephen Sondheim Award. His hardware also includes an Academy Award, eight Grammy Awards, a Kennedy Center honor, and so much more.

Can lovers of musical theater and theatrical musicals imagine a world without “Tonight” and “America” from West Side Story?

Or music lovers not ever hearing Judy Collins sing “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music? Or “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy?

In her tribute, Collins wrote, “We stand in awe of his power as a poet and a writer.”

Sondheim’s character, as portrayed by actor Bradley Whitford, appears in the new feature film production of Tick, Tick… Boom!, directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and based on musical theater playwright Jonathan Larson.

The Broadway stars of Sunday in the Park With George paid tribute.

And from Mandy Patinkin, “The guy who wrote my prayers has died. His words were my Torah. Sondheim wrote what he wished for himself and the world at large. We’ll be learning from his work as long as people are singing songs and beyond. Thank you Steve.”

Paul McCartney paid tribute on Nov. 27, 2021

Barbra Streisand wrote, “Thank the Lord that Sondheim lived to be 91 years old so he had the time to write such wonderful music and GREAT lyrics! May he Rest In Peace.”

Steven Spielberg’s new theatrical production of West Side Story opens in December. He said of Sondheim, “When we spoke, I couldn’t wait to listen, awestruck by the originality of his perceptions of art, politics and people – all delivered brilliantly by his mischievous with and dazzling words.”

Related: Musicians and others we’ve lost in 2021

In its obituary, The New York Times noted that Sondheim had traveled from his Connecticut home to New York this month to attend revivals of two of his musicals: Assassins, at the Classic Stage Company in Lower Manhattan, and the long-delayed first preview, since Broadway reopened, of Company, starring Patti LuPone, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater.

Best Classic Bands Staff

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.