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Composer, lyricist Stephen Sondheim dies at 91

Stephen Sondheim speaks to an audience at Tufts University in 2004. Associated Press/Photo by Charles Krupa

Composer, lyricist Stephen Sondheim dies at 91

Award-winning composer Stephen Sondheim died unexpectedly at home in Roxbury, Conn., on Thursday after Thanksgiving celebrations with friends, according to The New York Times. Sondheim was known as the Shakespeare of American musical theater, helping to reshape it in the late 20th century. He is survived by Jeff Romley, whom he married in 2017, and a half-brother, Walter.

Who was Stephen Sondheim? Sondheim started out as a protégé of his next-door neighbor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and contributed to work on the musicals South Pacific and The King and I. He also worked on West Side Story early in his career. His landmark musicals such as Company, Sweeney Todd, and Into the Woods pivoted Broadway toward darker and more intellectual subject matter. Singers said his signature dissonant songs were the most difficult to perform. “Send in the Clowns” was recorded more than 100 times by artists including Frank Sinatra. Six of Sondheim’s shows won Tony Awards for best musical, and he received a Tony lifetime achievement award. He also received a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award, several Olivier Awards, eight Grammys, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his lyrics and innovative compositions. Sondheim told The Telegraph in 2014, “I’m not writing for myself. I’m writing to entertain, to make people laugh and cry and think.”

—WORLD has updated this report to revise the description of Stephen Sondheim’s relationship with Jeff Romley.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Harrisburg, Pa.



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WORLD's Mickey McLean

We have corrected how we reported on the survivors of Stephen Sondheim. We did not intend to convey moral approval of Mr. Sondheim’s relationship with Jerry Romley, only to acknowledge its existence. In the future, we will be more careful to distinguish between legal same-sex marriages and marriage as defined in Scripture.


I , too, noticed and wondered about the words "husband" and married" being used in this article incorrectly. Can someone from WORLD tell us more about this; perhaps tell us why those words were permitted to be used by Carolina Lumetta in this article? Thank you.

Big Jim

Next thing you know, World will be referring to men giving birth.


What Evie said! That jumped out at me too in an otherwise respectful report. Words have meaning…and influence. Referring to Sondheim’s homosexual relationship as a “marriage” legitimizes/normalizes & reinforces the culture’s rebellion against God’s exclusive sacred covenant. This reference on a Christian news site can mislead weaker brothers & sisters in Christ to believe a lie. Ephesians 4:15 charges us to speak the truth in love. God blessed Mr. Sondheim with exceptional musical gifts, but God does NOT consider his male partner a husband.


Disappointed that World refers to Sondheim's "marriage" to his "husband". If I am remembering correctly, World has previously stated its intent to adhere to Biblical standards in its use of language. I hope this was an oversight, not a capitulation.