Stephen Sondheim, legend of the American musical comedy and author of the lyrics of “West Side Story” (Love without barriers) and “Sweeney Todd”, died this Friday at 91 years, declared his lawyer to the newspaper New York Times.
Sondheim died suddenly in the morning at his residence in Roxbury, in the state of Connecticut (northeast), after having celebrated Thanksgiving the day before with his friendssaid attorney Richard Pappas.
Born on March 22, 1930 in New York City, Sondheim was involved in musical theater from an early age.
He began playing the piano at age seven and was a family friend of Oscar Hammerstein II, a member of the famous musical theater duo Rodgers and Hammerstein, who wrote works such as “Oklahoma!” and “The Sound of Music” (The rebel novice).
In the course of his long career, Sondheim He won eight Grammy Awards, eight Tony Awards – including the Lifetime Theater Special – and an Academy Award. He was nominated for other Grammys and Tony’s, as well as two Golden Globes.
In 2015, the then president of the United States, Barack Obama, awarded Sondheim the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work.
Sondheim influenced several generations of theatrical composers, especially with Iconic musicals such as “Company,” “Follies,” and “Sweeney Todd,” which are considered one of his best works. His most famous ballad, “Send in the Clowns,” has been recorded hundreds of times, including by Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins.
Sondheim’s music and lyrics gave his shows a dark and dramatic touch, whereas before him, the dominant tone of musicals was lighthearted and comical. He was sometimes criticized for being an unhappy songwriter, a mark that Sondheim didn’t mind. Frank Sinatra, who had a hit with Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” once complained: “It could make me so much happier if I wrote more songs for lounge singers like me.”
For theatergoers, Sondheim’s sophistication and brilliance made him an icon. A Broadway theater is named after him. The cover of a New York magazine asked, “Is Sondheim God?” And the newspaper The Guardian once offered this question: “Is Stephen Sondheim the Shakespeare of musical theater?”
(With information from AFP and AP)
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