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Stephen Sondheim & Peter Jones

andrew potter
Stephen Joshua Sondheim (born March 22, 1930) is an American composer and lyricist known for his contributions to musical theatre. He is the winner of an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards including the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award. Described by Frank Rich of the New York Times as "now the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theater", his most famous works include (as composer and lyricist) A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods. He also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy. (P: Autographed publicity photo of Stephen Sondheim, ca 1970)

Sondheim has been described as being extremely introverted, a largely solitary figure. He has stated that he doesn't believe in marriage. He came out as homosexual in the 1980s and did not live with a partner until he was 61. This was Peter Jones, a dramatist; they lived together for several years, until 1999. In an interview with Frank Rich, Sondheim said that "the outsider feeling – somebody who people want to both kiss and kill – occurred quite early in my life."

Sondheim has written material for movies, including the 1981 Warren Beatty film Reds, for which he contributed the song "Goodbye For Now". He also wrote five songs for the 1990 movie Dick Tracy, including "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" which won the Academy Award for Best Song.

He was president of the Dramatists Guild from 1973 to 1981. In celebration of his 80th birthday, the Henry Miller's Theatre was renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on September 15, 2010, and the BBC Proms staged a concert in his honor. Cameron Mackintosh has described Sondheim as "possibly the greatest lyricist ever."


British stage and film actor, director, dramatist and racconteur Peter Ustinov with Peter Jones as they record Ustinov's impression of a German professor giving a lecture on Mozart, 1953.
Stephen Sondheim is an American composer and lyricist. Sondheim has been described as being introverted, a solitary figure. He has stated that he doesn't believe in marriage. He came out in the 1980s and did not live with a partner until he was 61, in 1991, with Peter Jones, a dramatist; they lived together for several years, until 1999. In an interview with Frank Rich, Sondheim said that "the outsider feeling – somebody who people want to both kiss and kill – occurred quite early in my life."


According to an unauthorized biography by Charles Winecoff, Anthony Perkins had affairs with Christopher Makos, actor Tab Hunter, dancer Rudolf Nureyev, composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim and dancer-choreographer Grover Dale prior to marrying Berenson. Perkins co-wrote, with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, the screenplay for the 1973 film The Last of Sheila, for which they received a 1974 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Motion Picture Screenplay.


Robert E. Griffith was associate producer and stage producer of the Broadway version of The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees! and West Side Story. He was partner of Harold Prince. Griffith died in 1961, and Prince continued on his own, supported by loyal investors. (P: The West Side Story Broadway production team in 1957: (l. to r.) lyricist Stephen Sondheim, scriptwriter Arthur Laurents, producers Hal Prince and Robert Griffith (seated), composer Leonard Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins.)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Sondheim

Further Readings:

Stephen Sondheim: A Life by Meryle Secrest
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Delta; 1st edition (June 8, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385334125
ISBN-13: 978-0385334129
Amazon: Stephen Sondheim: A Life

In the first full-scale life of the most important composer-lyricist at work in musical theatre today, Meryle Secrest, the biographer of Frank Lloyd Wright and Leonard Bernstein, draws on her extended conversations with Stephen Sondheim as well as on her interviews with his friends, family, collaborators, and lovers to bring us not only the artist--as a master of modernist compositional style--but also the private man.

Beginning with his early childhood on New York's prosperous Upper West Side, Secrest describes how Sondheim was taught to play the piano by his father, a successful dress manufacturer and amateur musician. She writes about Sondheim's early ambition to become a concert pianist, about the effect on him of his parents' divorce when he was ten, about his years in military and private schools. She writes about his feelings of loneliness and abandonment, about the refuge he found in the home of Oscar and Dorothy Hammerstein, and his determination to become just like Oscar.

Secrest describes the years when Sondheim was struggling to gain a foothold in the theatre, his attempts at scriptwriting (in his early twenties in Rome on the set of Beat the Devil with Bogart and Huston, and later in Hollywood as a co-writer with George Oppenheimer for the TV series Topper), living the Hollywood life.

Here is Sondheim's ascent to the peaks of the Broadway musical, from his chance meeting with play-wright Arthur Laurents, which led to his first success--as co-lyricist with Leonard Bernstein on West Side Story--to his collaboration with Laurents on Gypsy, to his first full Broadway score, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. And Secrest writes about his first big success as composer, lyricist, writer in the 1960s with Company, an innovative and sophisticated musical that examined marriage à la mode. It was the start of an almost-twenty-year collaboration with producer and director Hal Prince that resulted in such shows as Follies, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, and A Little Night Music.

We see Sondheim at work with composers, producers, directors, co-writers, actors, the greats of his time and ours, among them Leonard Bernstein, Ethel Merman, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Robbins, Zero Mostel, Bernadette Peters, and Lee Remick (with whom it was said he was in love, and she with him), as Secrest vividly re-creates the energy, the passion, the despair, the excitement, the genius, that went into the making of show after Sondheim show.

A biography that is sure to become the standard work on Sondheim's life and art.

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