Stephen Sondheim dies at 91

The composer has won nine Tony Awards, and his musical Company is currently in a revival run on Broadway.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

Stephen Sondheim, widely regarded as the most influential theatre composer/lyricist of the 20th century, has died at 91 years old. His career has spanned more than 50 years, including work in both theatre and film.

Sondheim wrote a total of 19 musicals between 1954 and 2008, many of which are considered musical theatre classics. After writing the musical Saturday Night in 1954 that wasn't staged in the U.S. until 1999, he made his Broadway debut as the lyricist for West Side Story in 1957 and followed it up as the lyricist for Gypsy in 1959. His only other credit solely as a lyricist was for the 1965 musical Do I Hear a Waltz?

Otherwise, Sondheim penned the music and lyrics for all his shows. They include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Sweeney Todd (1979), Into the Woods (1987), Passion (1994), and more. His final show was Road Show in 2008.

Sondheim is also the author of multiple music revues, two collections of collected lyrics, and has written multiple film scores. His most famous, that for Warren Beatty's 1990 film adaptation of Dick Tracy, includes "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)," the song that won Sondheim his Academy Award.

Five of his Broadway musicals have won the Best Musical Tony Award. Sondheim himself has won seven Tony Awards for Best Original Score, including music and/or lyrics, throughout his career. For all his accomplishments, he received a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 2008. In addition, he has won eight Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, eight Drama Desk Awards, five Olivier Awards, and an Obie Award.

Sondheim is also the recipient of a 1993 Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom from Former President Barack Obama. In 2010, a Broadway theatre formerly known as Henry Miller's Theatre was renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. (The venue currently houses the musical adaptation of Mrs. Doubtfire.)

Two of Sondheim's works are currently playing in New York, both of which he recently attended. He saw the reopening performance of the third Broadway revival of his 1970 musical Company on November 15, and the day before, he attended Classic Stage Company's Off-Broadway revival of his 1990 musical Assassins. In addition, a film adaptation of West Side Story is set for release on December 10, and he was portrayed in the recent film adaptation of Jonathan Larson's musical tick, tick... BOOM! as a mentor to Larson, another late theatre composer.

Originally published on

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