Stephen Sondheim, one of the giants of Broadway songwriting, died early Friday at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. He was 91.
Attorney F. Richard Pappas announced the death, which he described as sudden. Sondheim celebrated Thanksgiving with friends just a day ago, Pappas said.
Sondheim’s catalog includes works such as “Company” (1970), “Follies” (1971), “A Little Night Music” (1973), “Pacific Overtures” (1976), “Sweeney Todd” (1979), “Merrily We Roll” Along “(1981),” Sunday in the Park With George “(1984) and” Into the Woods “(1987).
Among his most memorable songs was “Send In the Clowns” from “Night Music”.
He dominated Broadway and was considered by many to be the greatest composer-lyricist of the latter half of the 20th century. He was one of the few great theater composers to handle words and music, including legends such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Frank Loesser.
His successes as a lyricist were as impressive as his songwriting. He wrote the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy” in the late 1950s.
Sondheim wrote his first word and text combination for the 1962 farcical comedy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical and ran for more than two years.
Collectively, he wrote music and lyrics for a dozen Broadway shows, a list that does not include revues such as “Side by Side by Sondheim,” “Putting It Together,” and the autobiographical “Sondheim on Sondheim.” Five of them won the Tony Awards for best musical, and six won for best original score.
His “Sunday in the Park” received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1985.
Sondheim’s show revivals were also successful. Three won Tony’s, including “Assassins” in 2004, which started on Off Broadway.
Sondheim later received a 1993 Kennedy Center Honors for Lifetime Achievement, and in 2015 was awarded the President’s Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. In 2008, he was awarded a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement, topped by the 2010 renaming of the Henry Miller Theater in his honor.
Sondheim also wrote music for films, including the score for “Stavisky”, a 1974 film about a French financier and embezzler. His song “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” for Warren Beatty’s “Dick Tracy” won an Oscar in 1991. Six starring albums from his shows won Grammy Awards, and “Send In the Clowns” won a Grammy for Song of the Year in 1975.
Survivors include his husband, Jeffrey Romley, and a half-brother, Walter Sondheim.
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