Personalities | Stephen Sondheim | Contemporary | Classical

b. 1930
American composer and lyricist

Sondheim studied with Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960) and Babbitt. Early work as a lyricist for Jules Styne’s (1905–89) Gypsy (1959) and Bernstein’s West Side Story (1957) brought his name to public attention, but it was not until Follies (1971) that he achieved recognition as a composer. His work is marked by a biting wit and a strong feeling for irony alongside a symphonic conception of the musical. Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979) uses a number of character motifs, glued together by the ‘Ballad of Sweeney Todd’ theme. Sondheim’s capacity to take a wide variety of genres and adapt them to his own needs can be clearly heard in Assassins (1991), in which pop, gospel and folk music rub shoulders.

Recommended Recording:
A Little Night Music, original Broadway cast, Orchestra (dir) Harold Hastings (Sony)

Introduction | Contemporary | Classical
Personalities | Karlheinz Stockhausen | Contemporary | Classical


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