For musical and theater fans this is a very tough day. Stephen Sondheim, one of the true greats in the history of Broadway passed away at the age of 91. His passing was announced by his family attorney and he is reported to have died at home. According to Deadline, his death was considered “sudden” and had celebrated Thanksgiving with his family the day before. He passed away in his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. Over his five-plus decade career on the stage Sondheim penned or helped pen some of the greatest musicals of all time.
Stephen Sondheim began his career working on musicals all the way back in 1954 when he wrote the music and lyrics for Saturday Night. Though that play wasn’t released on the intended schedule because of the death of the director. It was in 1957 when he released West Side Story which he collaborated with Leonard Bernstein on. Sondheim handled the lyrics with Bernstein writing the score. It won six Tony Awards and five years later was adapted into a feature film.
After the success of West Side Story, Stephen Sondheim would go on to collaborate with Jule Styne on Gypsy. It is loosely based on the life of Gypsy Rose Lee. It would also be nominated for a number of Tony Awards. After that, he set off on his own, writing and composing A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, a farcical take on Ancient Rome. Like his other work, this one landed Stephen Sondheim in awards circles again, winning the Tony for Best Musical.
Stephen Sondheim marked his career by developing and creating a number of other well-known musicals over the next few decades. Those included but weren’t limited to 1970s Company, 1979s Sweeney Todd, and Sunday in the Park with George. Then, in 1987 he released Into the Woods, the classic take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. The revamping of classic stories was a total hit and won Sondheim the Tony for Best Original Score. It has since been adapted into a feature film.
The much-lauded Stephen Sondheim would win nine Tony Awards in all as well as eight Grammy Awards for songs like “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music. He also took home the Academy Award for Best Original Song when he composed “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” from 1989s Dick Tracy. He eventually received the Tony Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. This past year he was honored with a special Sondheim at 90 which included some of the brightest stars of stage and screen paying homage to the composer’s lifetime work. It was timed with his 90th birthday.
In all, Stephen Sondheim is one of the most accomplished and well-revered composers and lyricists the world has ever known. His resume and work is nearly unparalleled having given the world some of the most well-known and time-honored musicals to ever his the stage. He is survived by his husband Jeffery Romley. Stephen Sondheim will be missed.