‘A titan of the American musical’: Tributes pour in after renowned composer Stephen Sondheim dies

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
‘A titan of the American musical’: Tributes pour in after renowned composer Stephen Sondheim dies
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Stephen Sondheim
    Stephen Sondheim
    American composer and lyricist

Tributes are flooding in for “titan” of musical theatre Stephen Sondheim, who has died aged 91.

Regarded as one of the foremost artists of the 20th century, Sondheim wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and composed Into the Woods among many others including Sweeney Todd and Company.

His friend and lawyer F Richard Pappas announced his death, which he described as “sudden”.

According to Pappas, Sondheim had spent the previous day having a Thanksgiving dinner with friends in Roxbury, Connecticut.

The worlds of theatre and film have been paying tribute.

Barbara Streisand wrote: “Thank the Lord that Sondheim lived to be 91-years-old so he had the time to write such wonderful music and GREAT lyrics! May he Rest In Peace .”

Cameron Mackintosh, the British theatre producer behind Les Miserables and Mary Poppins also paid tribute to Sondheim in a statement: “The theatre has lost one of its greatest geniuses and the world has lost one of its greatest and most original writers,” he said.

“Sadly, there is now a giant in the sky. But the brilliance of Stephen Sondheim will still be here as his legendary songs and shows will be performed for evermore. Goodbye old friend and thank you from all of us.”

Phantom of the Opera creator Andrew Lloyd Webber described Sondheim as a “musical theatre giant of our times, an inspiration not just to two but to three generations”.

He said Sondheim's contribution to theatre “will never be equalled”.

US President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to theater composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 24, 2015 (AFP via Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to theater composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 24, 2015 (AFP via Getty Images)

Josh Gad added: “Perhaps not since April 23rd of 1616 has theatre lost such a revolutionary voice. Thank you Mr Sondheim for your Demon Barber, some Night Music, a Sunday in the Park, Company, fun at a Forum, a trip Into the Woods and telling us a West Side Story. RIP. “

Broadway star Lea Salonda tweeted: “Rest In Peace, Stephen Sondheim, and thank you for your vast contributions to musical theater. We shall be singing your songs forever. Oh, my heart hurts…”

“Master. Legend. Icon. I was so privileged to join in 2 standing ovations last week at the opening of Company on Broadway,” actor Wilson Cruz tweeted. “Gratitude for the endless inspiration he provided to generations. He changed the world.”

Born in New York in 1930, Sondheim was tutored by the great composer Oscar Hammerstein and wrote his first musical at 15. He went on to have his first hit at just 27 with West Side Story which was a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1950s New York City.

In a Broadway career that lasted over 60 years, Sondheim co-created other classics of the stage such as Gypsy, Sweeney Todd and Company.

Across his lengthy career, Sondheim won nine Tony Awards, an Academy Award, eight Grammys and and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1985.

Sondheim was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2015.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting