The Devastating Death Of Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim, the playwright and composer responsible for “West Side Story” and many other classic Broadway musicals, passed away on Friday, November 26, at 91 years old.
Sondheim was undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, bringing his genius to a wide range of musicals including works like “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” “Into the Woods,” and more. The London gothic of “Sweeney Todd” was counterbalanced in the sweet overtures of “Company,” and despite being performed by dozens of actors onstage, Mr. Sondheim’s art remained deeply personal. A new film adaptation of “West Side Story” directed by Steven Spielberg is slated for release in December.
Earlier this month, he returned to New York from his quarantine in Roxbury, MA, to attend revivals of two of his classic shows: “Assassins” and “Company.” According to the New York Times, which described Sondheim as a “titan of musical theatre,” his death was sudden, and he attended a friend’s Thanksgiving festivities the day before. He is survived by his half brother, Walter, and his husband, Jeffrey Romley.
Sondheim was a true legend of Broadway theater
Stephen Sondheim’s work was diverse in style and tone, but that’s what made his work so important. Using dissonant tones and complicated wordplay, Sondheim immediately set himself apart from his fellow composers and songwriters, and Whether his characters sang about their cannibalistic crimes in “Sweeney Todd” or roused asylum inmates to song in “Anyone Can Whistle,” his musicals spoke to millions, and his work will live on for years and years to come.
Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975, Sondheim racked up eight Tony awards for his compositions and even more for his lyrics, taking home more gold than any other composer and topping it all off with a lifetime achievement Tony in 2008. He received a Presidential Medal of Honor from former president Barack Obama in 2015.
Our thoughts are with Sondheim’s friends and loved ones, as well as anyone who loved his enormous and incredibly influential body of work.