Obituary: Lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim, 91

Posted on: November 29, 2021

“Stephen Sondheim, whose intricate and powerful lyrics, venturesome melodies and sweeping stage visions made him a central figure in contemporary American musical theater, died Nov. 26 at his home in Roxbury, Conn. He was 91,” writes Tim Page in Friday’s (11/26) Washington Post. “He won his initial fame as the lyricist for ‘West Side Story’ (1957), with music by Leonard Bernstein, and followed up by writing the lyrics for Jule Styne’s ‘Gypsy’ (1959). His primary achievement lies in the works for which he created both music and lyrics, including ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ (1962), ‘Company’ (1970), ‘Follies’ (1971), ‘A Little Night Music’ (1973), ‘Sweeney Todd’ (1979), ‘Sunday in the Park With George’ (1984), ‘Into the Woods’ (1987) and ‘Passion’ (1994)…. Mr. Sondheim was less interested in creating stand-alone popular ‘hits’ than in fashioning unified works that maintained a firm, near-operatic structural integrity throughout…. He and James Lapine shared the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1985 for ‘Sunday in the Park with George.’ … Stephen Joshua Sondheim was born in New York on March 22, 1930…. In 1950, Mr. Sondheim graduated magna cum laude from Williams College in Massachusetts and moved back to New York, where he studied with the modernist composer Milton Babbitt…. Mr. Sondheim … in 2017 … married Jeffrey Romley, who survives him.”