American composer

American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has died aged 91

(Photo courtesy: Everything Sondheim)

Originally a student of piano and organ, Sondheim first studied musical theater with his family friend, Oscar Hammerstein II, and went on to study at Williams College in Massachusetts. After graduating he received the Hutchinson Prize for Composition and continued his studies in New York with the composer Milton babbitt.

One of his first Broadway roles was as a lyricist for Leonard Bernstein“West Side Story,” which opened in 1957 and is now relaunched on screen in an upcoming film. Also in the 1950s, Sondheim wrote the lyrics for the show “Gypsy”.

He first wrote the music and lyrics for a show in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” which debuted in 1962 and won a Tony Award for Best Musical.

His ten extra Tony Award came from shows such as “Company” (1970), “Follies” (1971), “A Little Night Music” (1973) and “Sweeney Todd: The Barber Demon of Fleet Street “(1979).

Sondheim often collaborated with the playwright-director Jacques Lapine. Together they created “Into the Woods” (1987), “Passion” (1994) and “Sunday in the Park with George” (1984) – the latter having won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1985. His additional collaborators included the producer and director Hal prince and orchestrator Jonathan tunick.

Its additional accolades include the 1993 Kennedy Center Honors for his entire career, the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom for President Barack Obama, and the Tony Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. Two years later, a Broadway theater on West 43rd Street in New York City was renamed in his honor.

Our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. Sondheim.