Stephen Sondheim

'... unprecedented, dark, near-operatic writing ...' - Howard Smith, reviewing a recording of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd

American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was born in New York City on 22 March 1930. He learnt much of the craft of writing musicals from Oscar Hammerstein II and at Williams College in Massachusetts.

He wrote the lyrics for musicals, including Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story and Jule Styne's Gypsy. Later he became known for both the music and lyrics of his own musical theatre works, which include Company, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods. His style was unique and complex yet very accessible, and often dealt with subjects not traditionally covered by music theatre, such as in the song Green Finch and Linnet Bird from Sweeney Todd. His work has been compared to that of Mozart, and it has been said that he reinvented American musical theatre.

Sondheim died suddenly at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut on 26 November 2021, aged ninety-one.


A selection of articles about Stephen Sondheim

Ensemble. Songs from the Shows - Mike Wheeler enjoys a 'Strictly Musical' evening at Buxton Opera House

Ensemble. Warmth and Sassiness - Mike Wheeler was at Buxton Opera House for 'Gypsy: A Musical Fable'

Classical music news - October and November 2021 Obituaries - Our summary of those the classical music world has lost this and last month

Ensemble. A Magical Production - Mike Wheeler reports on the Buxton Festival's first ever musical - Stephen Sondheim's 'A Little Night Music'

Ensemble. Where to now for the Arts in the UK? - Annie Lydford, Julian Glover and Emily Gottlieb in conversation with Michael Williams as part of the Buxton International Festival Digital 2020 Season, reported by Mike Wheeler

Ensemble. Especially Enjoyable Hard Work - Paul Kerryson and Wyn Davies explore the work of Stephen Sondheim and 'A Little Night Music', in conversation with Michael Williams, as part of the Buxton International Festival Digital 2020 Season, reviewed by Mike Wheeler

Ensemble. Unaffected Directness - A song recital by Curran Doherty and Edward Turner, heard by Mike Wheeler

Dies Irae - George Colerick takes a look at secular and romantic uses of the old Latin hymn

Ensemble. A Bloody Good Time - James Sohre enjoyed Stephen Sondheim's 'Sweeney Todd' at San Francisco Opera

Ensemble. Infectiously Enjoyable - Anniversaries at The VoiceBox in Derby, by Mike Wheeler

CD Spotlight. Striking Effect - Stephen Sondheim's 'Sweeney Todd', heard by Howard Smith. 'A "killer diller" on all counts.'

Ensemble. Quite a Charmer - 'Alessandro' at the London Handel Festival, reviewed by Robert Hugill

Ensemble. Infectious Rhythms - Jim Lueers' 'Come to the Well', enjoyed by Kelly Ferjutz

Ensemble. Delayed Reaction - Sondheim's 'Merrily we roll along', reviewed by Mike Wheeler

Ensemble. Emotionally devastating - Stephen Sondheim's 'Into the Woods' impresses Mike Wheeler

Ensemble. Sparkling Performances - Yvonne Kenny and Iain Burnside at London's Wigmore Hall, reviewed by Robert Hugill

Ensemble - Judge on the menu. Patric Standford attends the first night of Opera North's revival production of Sondheim's 'Sweeney Todd'