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Fri Nov 26, 2021, 05:18 PM

Stephen Sondheim, Titan of the American Musical, is Dead at 91

Source: New York Times

Stephen Sondheim, one of Broadway history’s songwriting titans, whose music and lyrics raised and reset the artistic standard for the American stage musical, died early Friday at his home in Roxbury, Conn. He was 91.

His lawyer and friend, F. Richard Pappas, announced the death, which he described as sudden. The day before, Mr. Sondheim had celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner with friends in Roxbury, Mr. Pappas said.

An intellectually rigorous artist who perpetually sought new creative paths, Mr. Sondheim was the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century, if not its most popular.

His work melded words and music in a way that enhanced them both. From his earliest successes in the late 1950s, when he wrote the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” through the 1990s, when he wrote the music and lyrics for two audacious musicals, “Assassins,” giving voice to the men and women who killed or tried to kill American presidents, and “Passion,” an operatic probe into the nature of true love, he was a relentlessly innovative theatrical force.

Read more: Stephen Sondheim, Titan of the American Musical, Is Dead at 91 https://nyti.ms/32DBQW7



An extraordinary talent. The lights on Broadway are dimmer tonight.

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Reply Stephen Sondheim, Titan of the American Musical, is Dead at 91 (Original post)
Danmel Nov 26 OP
hlthe2b Nov 26 #1
beaglelover Nov 26 #2
elleng Nov 26 #3
2naSalit Nov 26 #16
elleng Nov 26 #18
bahboo Nov 26 #4
forgotmylogin Nov 26 #5
Beartracks Nov 26 #9
forgotmylogin Nov 27 #27
forgotmylogin Nov 27 #28
PA_jen Nov 26 #6
BumRushDaShow Nov 26 #7
DinahMoeHum Nov 26 #8
Dukkha Nov 26 #10
elleng Nov 26 #12
Dukkha Nov 26 #20
elleng Nov 26 #11
Mad_Dem_X Nov 26 #23
Danmel Nov 26 #13
Lunabell Nov 26 #14
msfiddlestix Nov 26 #15
2naSalit Nov 26 #17
Hekate Nov 26 #19
LetMyPeopleVote Nov 26 #21
AngryOldDem Nov 26 #22
Mad_Dem_X Nov 26 #24
beaglelover Nov 27 #29
robbob Nov 26 #25
littlemissmartypants Nov 26 #26
wnylib Nov 28 #30

Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 05:20 PM

1. I hadn't realized he was 91 so I suppose his death was not so surprising...

But a bit of a shock to me at least.

You will be remembered. RIP

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 05:22 PM

2. What an amazing talent! He will be missed!

RIP Mr. Sondheim.

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 05:23 PM

3. Top 10 Stephen Sondheim Greatest Musicals

Last edited Fri Nov 26, 2021, 06:36 PM - Edit history (1)

https://www.broadway.com/buzz/187716/the-fans-have-spoken-your-top-10-stephen-sondheim-greatest-musicals/

My daughter just reminded me that she played Philia in 'Forum' in high school.

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Response to elleng (Reply #3)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 07:33 PM

16. That was my favorite of all time...

It was first time I almost peed my pants laughing during a musical.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #16)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 07:35 PM

18. It was pretty funny, and of course, I only 'learned' it when my daughter was in high school!

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 05:25 PM

4. damn...a true giant....

gave us so much....

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 05:26 PM

5. Noooooooo....

He went to the premiere of the revival of Company and to Thanksgiving yesterday.

At least it wasn't due to extended illness.

I suppose that means the hat is finished.

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Response to forgotmylogin (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 06:43 PM

9. ... where there never was a hat.

RIP Mr. Sondheim.

===========

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Response to Beartracks (Reply #9)

Sat Nov 27, 2021, 10:19 AM

27. Sunday in the Park with George is probably my favorite show.

About Georges Seurat developing a new technique (pointillism with millions of dots of unblended colors) nobody else ever had tried before and being ridiculed for it "They hung it over the refreshment stand!"



The score and orchestrations for the musical are insanely challenging as Sondheim replicated the pointillist style in the music with frantic staccato rhythms and dissonances that blend in the ear when heard together as a whole. Apparently some musicians called in to play for the show turned it down because they were baffled by the music.

It's probably Sondheim's most personal work, illuminating his philosophy about art, artists/creators, and the obsessive mental state that takes them away from the real world as they choose live in their own and moving on from that. It's a rare show in that the romance with his model/muse gives her the character arc realizing that she cannot be with him and also have what she wants despite their deep connection.



And there's also Sweeney Todd, (I encourage people to listen to outside of the Tim Burton movie which compromises a lot of the score) which is its own terrifying and entertaining beast of a show about obsession and revenge.



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Response to forgotmylogin (Reply #27)

Sat Nov 27, 2021, 10:48 AM

28. One of my favorite moments in the show that always makes me weep copiously...

Historians have tried to decipher the odd collage of characters and objects in the arrangement of the painting, which is the set of the musical over which George wields godlike power as the artist, adding and subtracting trees and other scenic elements at will. "I hate this tree..."

The musical does this too, hypothesizing relationships and reasons: "That...is Louis's waffle stove!"

George is considered "odd" staring at and sketching all manner of things not considered good subject material for a painting: "Staring at the monkey cage!" His lover and model Dot thinks he might be cheating on her:

Who was at the zoo, George?
Who was at the zoo?
The monkeys and who George?
The monkeys and who?


In the finale of Act One the painting comes together as George completes it, organizing the chaos that has erupted from his life and subjects. Dot is front and center, featured, obviously very important despite the fact she has left him and is moving to America with a baker. George looks her in the eye as he positions her and a monkey appears at her feet. While holding her gaze, he unwinds the monkey's leash and places it in her hand.


That's what he was doing at the zoo. It gets me every time.

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 05:27 PM

6. Amazing Talent. He will be missed.

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 05:48 PM

7. Wow.

I didn't realize he was still around. A sad loss.

Condolences to the family and close friends, thank you for your amazing and seminal work, and R.I.P.

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 06:02 PM

8. Legend.

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 07:00 PM

10. Play us out Frank

R.I.P. to a legendary composer

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Response to Dukkha (Reply #10)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 07:10 PM

12. Beat me to it.

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Response to elleng (Reply #12)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 08:07 PM

20. Love Babs version too

and Judy Collins

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 07:10 PM

11. "Send In the Clowns"

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Response to elleng (Reply #11)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 09:32 PM

23. This song always makes me cry.

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 07:27 PM

13. Children Will Listen

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 07:31 PM

14. RIP to a musical genius.

Thank you for your gift to the American musical theater and to the world.

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 07:32 PM

15. Great Talent will be missed. R.I.P.

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 07:34 PM

17. ...

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 07:43 PM

19. I thought he would go on forever -- which, in a way, he will....

RIP, sir, and thanks for everything. 🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 08:16 PM

21. May he rest in peace

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 08:18 PM

22. American musical theater has lost a true icon.

Absolutely brilliant lyricist. Although his genius will live on, he was one person who I thought we would never lose.

RIP.

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 09:33 PM

24. West Side Story is one of my favorite musicals

Thank you, Mr. Sondheim, for the music and the memories. Rest in peace.

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Response to Mad_Dem_X (Reply #24)

Sat Nov 27, 2021, 11:41 AM

29. Just FYI, he only wrote the lyrics for WSS. Leonard Bernstein wrote the music.

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 09:35 PM

25. A gorgeous melody,

Also from “A Little Night Music”, although of course overshadowed by “Send in the Clowns”. I saw a production of this in Montreal in the early 90’s with a woman I was madly infatuated with playing one of the lead rolls, and even though I had never heard it before it stuck with me and still stirs something inside me.

The Sun Won’t Set:

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Fri Nov 26, 2021, 11:50 PM

26. ...

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Response to Danmel (Original post)

Sun Nov 28, 2021, 04:10 AM

30. One of my favorites, besides

West Side Story, is Into the Woods.

One day, years ago, I had my TV on, not paying close attention while folding laundry, and then dusting, when an unusual fairy tale musical came on. I stopped to see where it was going and ended up abandoning my chores to sit glued to the TV for the rest of it. Creative, insightful, and mesmerizing. A couple years later I saw a community college theater production of it.

Regarding West Side Story, I first saw it in a theater when I was 14. I'd heard some of the tunes on the radio for years before that, but hearing them in the film setting impressed me so much that I bought a vinyl LP of the entire film tunes. Played it so often that I had all the lyrics to every song memorized.

Decades later, I picked up the dvd, wondering if I would feel the same about it so many years later. I was even more impressed with the music, not just the Bernstein score, but how well the lyrics blended with the music as they told the action of the story and the emotions of the characters.

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