Sondheim's contributions to West Side Story and Gypsy in the s brought him recognition as a rising star of Broadway. They divorced in and Sondheim moved to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, with his mother. He began studying piano and organ at a young age, and he was already practicing songwriting as a student at the George School. In Pennsylvania, Sondheim became friends with the son of Broadway lyricist and producer Oscar Hammerstein II, who gave the young Sondheim advice and tutelage in musical theater, and served as a surrogate father during a time of tumult. In his teens, Sondheim had penned a satire about his school, the musical By George!
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A complete guide to every Stephen Sondheim musical
Active in major Broadway productions of American musical theater beginning in , composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim born redefined the Broadway musical form with his innovative and award winning productions. He continued to be a major force in the shaping of this genre into the s. Sondheim was born into a prosperous business family on March 22, He studied piano for two years while very young and continued his interest in the musical stage throughout his education.
Such, anyway, is always my view of the human race after listening to a cast recording of a Stephen Sondheim musical, or even to just one of his ballads. And when it comes to emotions, Sondheim — more than any other composer from the Broadway songbook — is the one I trust to tell me the truth. Of course, his ever-nimble lyrics — which have made his name a byword for verbal cosmopolitanism — abound in paradoxes, puns and declarations of uncertainty, all etched into deep-burrowing grooves. But the music adds yet another layer, which often both confirms and battles with the words. Which is why it took audiences and critics so long to embrace him, and why — once they did — he assumed his rightful place on an Olympian peak that no subsequent songwriter has ever been able to ascend. My baptism into the multicolored, churning waters of a Sondheim score occurred when I was 16, on my maiden trip to New York, a place that loomed in my Southern childhood like the Emerald City of Oz. I should say here that I considered myself well-versed in musicals at that time. Original cast recordings of New York shows were still regularly spinning on turntables in middle-class American homes.
He is also known for writing the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy The composer grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and, after his parents divorced, on a farm near Doylestown, Pennsylvania. As the only child of well-to-do parents living in the San Remo on Central Park West , he was described in Meryle Secrest 's biography Stephen Sondheim: A Life as an isolated, emotionally neglected child. He later attended the New York Military Academy and George School , a private Quaker preparatory school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where he wrote his first musical, By George,  and from which he graduated in Sondheim spent several summers at Camp Androscoggin. He traces his interest in theatre to Very Warm for May , a Broadway musical he saw when he was nine. I thought that was thrilling. When Sondheim was ten years old, his father already a distant figure had left his mother for another woman Alicia, with whom he had two sons. Herbert sought custody of Stephen but was unsuccessful. Sondheim explained to biographer Secrest that he was "what they call an institutionalized child, meaning one who has no contact with any kind of family.