Stephen Sondheim, legendary Broadway songwriter, dies at 91

Renowned songwriter Stephen Sondheim, who wrote “West Side Story” and a dozen other Broadway shows, died at his home in Roxbury, Conn. on Friday at the age of 91. 

His death was announced by his friend and lawyer, F. Richard Pappas, who said it was sudden and Sondheim was not known to be ill. He added that Sondheim had celebrated Thanksgiving with friends in Roxbury the day before his death, according to The New York Times

Sondheim, regarded as one of the most influential composer-lyricists of his time, was one of just a handful of people who have written the words to go along with their own musical scores, the Times reported.

ADVERTISEMENT

For the first show in which Sondheim wrote both words and music, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” he won a Tony Award for best musical, and the production ran for over two years, the Times added. 

He wrote the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy” and produced a series of original works in the 1970s and 1980s, which was regarded as his most productive period, per the Times. Those works included “Company,” “Sunday in the Park With George” and “Into the Woods” among other productions.

"I have always conscientiously tried not to do the same thing twice," Sondheim said in an interview with The New York Times Magazine in 2000. "I certainly feel out of the mainstream because what’s happened in musicals is corporate and cookie-cutter stuff. And if I’m out of fashion, I’m out of fashion. Being a maverick isn’t just about being different. It’s about having your vision of the way a show might be."

During his career, Sondheim wrote the music and the lyrics for a dozen Broadway shows, five of which won Tony Awards for best musical and six for best original score. His show “Sunday in the Park” won a Pulitzer Prize for drama, the newspaper added.

His other achievements included the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement and a Tony Award for lifetime achievement. Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Biden nominates Jane Hartley as ambassador to UK To boost economy and midterm outlook, Democrats must pass clean energy bill MORE also awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. The Henry Miller’s Theater, a Broadway house, was also renamed in his honor in 2010.