A musical comedy legend has passed away. American composer and lyricist of West Side Story Stephen Sondheim died Friday, November 26 at the age of 91, a spokesperson said.
His lawyer, F. Richard Pappas, informed the New York Times that Stephen Sondheim had died suddenly at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut (northeast of the country), after celebrating Thanksgiving with his friends the day before. Rick Miramontez, spokesperson for one of his plays, Company, currently performing on Broadway, confirmed his death to Agence France-Presse.
Born March 22, 1930 in New York City, he was considered one of the greatest composers of musicals. Stephen Sondheim, whose parents worked in fashion, had a passion for musical theater from an early age. After working on television, or writing crosswords for the New York Magazine, it’s because of West Side Story let him attain glory.
Trained at a young age by the great master Oscar Hammerstein (Show Boat, The melody of happiness), he was hired at just 25 to write the lyrics for the now legendary musical, his first Broadway show, later adapted for the screen.
He then worked in particular on Sweeney Todd, Gypsy, Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music, as a composer or lyricist.
During his long career, this Broadway giant has won eight Grammy Awards, as many Tony Awards, an Oscar, as well as a Pulitzer Prize.
In 2015, Barack Obama, then President of the United States, awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. “To put it simply, Stephen reinvented the American musical, Barack Obama had said. His music is so beautiful, his lyrics so precise, that even when he exposes the imperfections of everyday life, he transcends them. “
Actress and singer Anna Kendrick lamented on Friday a “Terrible loss”. “A few days ago I was telling someone how fun he is [et vraiment difficile] to sing from Stephen Sondheim. Interpreting his works has been one of the greatest privileges of my career ”, did she react on Twitter.
Actor Hugh Jackman, for his part, expressed his gratitude to the lyricist. “Every once in a while a person comes in to fundamentally change an entire art genre. Stephen Sondheim was one of them. As millions of people mourn his passing, I also want to express my gratitude for all that he has given to me and to so many others ”, he tweeted.
“We have lost a great artist and a great New Yorker today”, greeted on the same social network Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of the city.
Two of Stephen Sondheim’s plays, Company and Assassins, were performed on Broadway this fall.