November 26, 2021 6:52 PM
The entertainment world mourns the death of a prolific composer.
Stephen Sondheim, whose music has been featured in Broadway hits such as West Side Story, Gypsy, Society, and Sweeney Todd: Fleet Street Barber Demon, died Friday at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. He was 91 years old.
His death comes as a Remake of the movie directed by Steven Spielberg West Side Story is gearing up for a world premiere next month.
In a career that spanned seven decades, Sondheim was either a composer or lyricist for 19 musical productions, as well as nine television and film adaptations. He has also written music or screenplay for a variety of film and television projects.
Born in New York in 1930, he attended the prestigious Fieldston School, New York Military Academy and Williams College. At the age of ten, he befriended the son of Broadway composer Oscar Hammerstein II, who soon took the young Sondheim under his wing. At 22, Sondheim had written four musicals at Hammerstein’s request.
Sondheim’s first Broadway success dates back to 1957 with West Side Story, where he wrote the lyrics for Leonard Bernstein’s score. He continued this two years later with Gypsy, with Jule Styne in the scoring. His first musical as a composer and lyricist was A funny thing happened on the way to the forum in 1962. Sondheim’s music received mixed reviews despite the show’s success.
Teaming up with Broadway director Harold Prince in the 1970s and early 1980s, Sondheim composed the music for the Broadway shows. Society, Follies, A little night music, Pacific openings, Sweeney Todd: Fleet Street Barber Demon, and We ride happily. With James Lapine in the 80s and 90s, he wrote Sunday at the park with George, In the woods, and Passion.
Later productions included Assassins, Saturday night, and wise guys.
Sondheim won a total of eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and an Oscar for the 1990 film Dick tracy, for the song “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)”.
Sondheim is survived by her husband, Jeffrey Scott Romley, whom he married in 2017.