American composer

American composer and songwriter Stephen Sondheim has died at 91


Musical celebrities on both sides of the pond paid tribute to American composer and songwriter Stephen Sondheim, a man who “fundamentally changed an entire art form.”

A host of famous faces expressed their sadness at this “devastating” loss and said they were lucky to have worked with him.

Lyricist Sir Tim Rice has described him as a “musical master”, Phantom Of The Opera composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has said he is a “musical theater giant” and director Steven Spielberg has said he was “a gigantic figure in American culture”.

Other people who paid tribute included English singer Elaine Paige, who appeared in Sondheim’s Follies Broadway series in 2011.

She tweeted: “Devastated to hear that one of the most important musical theater giants of our generation, #StephenSondheim, has passed away.

Phantom of the Opera composer Andrew Lloyd Webber described Stephen Sondheim as a “musical theater giant” (/ PA) (PA Media)

“I was lucky enough to have performed in two of his shows @FolliesBroadway & Sweeney Todd, and I also co-wrote a song for my 50th birthday.

Lloyd Webber wrote: “Farewell Steve, the musical theater giant of our time, an inspiration not just for two but for three generations.

“Your contribution to the theater will never be matched.”

Sir Tim said: “RIP Stephen Sondheim, master musician.

“His words for West Side Story would have guaranteed him theatrical immortality, but there was so much more.

“He dominated songwriting like a colossus.”

Barbra Streisand, whose Broadway album featured lyrics written by Sondheim, tweeted: “Thank the Lord that Sondheim lived to be 91 so he had time to write such wonderful music and awesome lyrics.” ! May he rest in peace.”

Every once in a while someone comes along to fundamentally change a whole art form. Stephen Sondheim was one of those

Spielberg, who directs the film adaptation of West Side Story, said Sondheim was “one of our country’s greatest songwriters, a genius lyricist and songwriter, and a creator of some of the most glorious musical dramas. never written ”.

In a statement reported by ABC News, he said the couple had recently become friends and “knew more about the movies than almost anyone I had met.”

He added: “When we spoke I was eager to listen, amazed by the originality of his perceptions of art, politics and people – all brilliantly delivered by his mischievous wit and words. dazzling.

“I will miss him a lot, but he left a work that has taught us, and will continue to teach us, how difficult and absolutely necessary it is to love.”

Theater titan Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted, “Stephen Sondheim was real. Yes he wrote Tony & Maria AND Sweeney Todd AND Bobby AND George & Dot AND Fosca AND countless others. Some may theorize that Shakespeare’s works were by committee, but Steve was real and he was here and he laughed SO hard at shows and we loved him.

Actor Hugh Jackman, star of The Greatest Showman, said, “Every once in a while someone shows up and basically changes a whole art form. Stephen Sondheim was one of them.

“As millions mourn his passing, I also want to express my gratitude for all he has given me and many more.

“Send my love to loved ones. “

Singer and actress Anna Kendrick said, “I was talking to someone a few nights ago about how fun (and f ****** difficult) it is to sing Stephen Sondheim.

Barbra Streisand, whose The Broadway Album featured lyrics written by Sondheim, praised her music and “wonderful” lyrics (Yui Mok / PA) (AP Archives)

“Performing his job has been one of the greatest privileges of my career. A devastating loss.

Tony Award winner Idina Menzel said: “Goodbye dear sir. We will spend our lives trying to make you proud.

Tony winner Lea Salonga, who performed at last year’s concert to mark Sondheim’s birthday, tweeted: “Rest in peace, Stephen Sondheim, and thank you for your vast contributions to musical theater.

“We will sing your songs forever. Oh, my heart hurts.

He said Sondheim’s sparkle “will always be there as his legendary songs and shows will be played forever more”

Comedian David Baddiel paid tribute on Twitter with a link to the song Sorry-Grateful, from the musical Company, saying, “The problem with Sondheim is that he elevated the lyrics to the same level of emotional complexity. and psychological than the novel. “

Musical theater star Carrie Hope Fletcher quoted Sondheim’s Into the Woods in her tribute: “Oh, if life was made of moments. Even from time to time a bad one. But if life were only moments. So you would never know you had one!

“A genius, a giant, a hero. Farewell, Sondheim.

Actress Frances Barber described him as “an icon” and said it was “truly the end of an era”.

Musical theater star Lucie Jones tweeted: “Urgh. My heart.

“Thank you, Mr Sondheim.

“I loved you like I couldn’t and will continue to love her.”

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