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.
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