28 Facts About Stephen Sondheim

1. Stephen Sondheim agreed, and despite frequent dissonance and a highly-chromatic style, his music is tonal.

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2. Stephen Sondheim said in response to the honor, "I'm deeply embarrassed.

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3. The first award, to Stephen Sondheim, was presented at an April 27, 2009 benefit with performances by Bernadette Peters, Michael Cerveris, Will Gartshore and Eleasha Gamble.

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4. Stephen Sondheim founded Young Playwrights Inc in 1981 to introduce young people to writing for the theatre, and is the organization's executive vice-president.

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5. In November 2015, Stephen Sondheim was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House.

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6. Stephen Sondheim took the stage during an encore of his song, "Old Friends".

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7. Stephen Sondheim worked with William Goldman on Singing Out Loud, a musical film, in 1992, penning the song "Water Under the Bridge".

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8. On February 1, 2011, Stephen Sondheim joined former Salt Lake Tribune theatre critic Nancy Melich before an audience of 1,200 at Kingsbury Hall.

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9. Stephen Sondheim had another "conversation with" Sean Patrick Flahaven at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach on February 4, 2009, in which he discussed many of his songs and shows: "On the perennial struggles of Broadway: 'I don't see any solution for Broadway's problems except subsidized theatre, as in most civilized countries of the world.

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10. Stephen Sondheim wrote additional songs for the film adaptation of Into the Woods, including "Rainbows".

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11. Stephen Sondheim collaborated with producer-director Hal Prince on six musicals from 1970 to 1981, beginning with the 1970 concept musical Company.

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12. Stephen Sondheim has lived in a Turtle Bay, Manhattan brownstone since writing Gypsy in 1959.

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13. Stephen Sondheim was invited to Robbins' house in the hope that Guare would convince him to write the lyrics for a musical version of The Exception and the Rule; according to Robbins, Bernstein would not work without Sondheim.

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14. Stephen Sondheim had participated in three straight hits, but his next show—1964's Anyone Can Whistle—was a nine-performance failure.

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15. In 1960, Stephen Sondheim lost his mentor and father figure, Oscar Hammerstein.

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16. Stephen Sondheim agreed; Gypsy opened on May 21, 1959, and ran for 702 performances.

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17. Stephen Sondheim agreed, but Ethel Merman—cast as Mama Rose—had just finished Happy Hunting with an unknown composer and lyricist (Matt Dubey).

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18. Stephen Sondheim described the division of the royalties, saying that Bernstein received three percent and he received one percent.

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19. Stephen Sondheim insisted that Bernstein told the producers to list him as the sole lyricist.

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20. Stephen Sondheim said that although he was not a big fan of Sondheim's music, he enjoyed the lyrics from Saturday Night and he could audition for Bernstein.

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21. At age 22, Stephen Sondheim had finished the four shows requested by Hammerstein.

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22. Stephen Sondheim said about Babbitt, "I am his maverick, his one student who went into the popular arts with all his serious artillery".

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23. Stephen Sondheim began attending Williams College, a liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts whose theatre program attracted him.

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24. Stephen Sondheim met Hal Prince, who would direct many of his shows, at the opening of South Pacific, Hammerstein's musical with Richard Rodgers.

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25. Stephen Sondheim had already been estranged from her for nearly 20 years.

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26. Stephen Sondheim was president of the Dramatists Guild from 1973 to 1981.

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27. Stephen Sondheim has written film music, contributing "Goodbye for Now" for Warren Beatty's 1981 Reds.

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28. Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy (1959).

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