Stephen Sondheim, a legendary American composer and songwriter, has died at the age of 91.
Sondheim died on Friday at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut, according to the New York Times.
He was a musical theatre titan who turned the most unlikely subjects into cultural classics. He wrote the music for some of Broadway’s most well-known shows, including Company, Follies, and A Little Night Music, over the course of his successful career. Sondheim also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story.
The composer, who was born in New York, received eight Grammys, nine Tony Awards, including one for lifetime achievement in the theatre, and one Academy Award. He was also awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
His ballad, “Send in the Clowns,” from the 1973 musical “A Little Night Music,” has been covered by Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins, among others. Sondheim received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour, from US President Barack Obama in 2015 for his contributions.
According to Sondheim’s lawyer, the composer had spent Thanksgiving with friends the day before he died.
The tributes to one of the musical theatre’s most famous composers have begun to flow in. Anna Kendrick, a US actress and vocalist, remarked that “performing Sondheim’s work was one of the greatest privileges of my career, and that his death was a tragic loss.”
Sondheim, who was born on March 22, 1930, attended his first Broadway musical when he was nine years old.
He met Oscar Hammerstein II, of The King and I and Oklahoma! Fame the following year, and he became his mentor as he began his musical theatre career.
In 1957, West Side Story premiered on Broadway and ran for almost 700 performances. The 1961 film adaptation was nominated for ten Academy Awards.
A Broadway playhouse was renamed in Sondheim’s honour in 2010, the year he turned 80.
In London, he was given the same honour ten years later when the Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue was renamed the Sondheim.
Sondheim is survived by his husband, Jeffrey Scott Romley, whom he married in 2017, and who is over 50 years his junior.