Sondheim's FINISHING THE HAT Makes NY Times 'Top 10'
Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim's new book 'Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes' was released on October 26, 2010.
Last week, the book, which debuted at #11 on the New York Times Book Review Bestseller list, made the paper's 100 Notable Books of 2010 list. They write "Sondheim's analysis of his songs and those of others is both stinging and insightful."
Now, it's also been picked by the paper amongst the The 10 Best Books of 2010, which honor 5 fiction, and 5 non-fiction titles. About the book, the noted Book Review section writes "The theater's pre-eminent living songwriter offers a master class in how to write a musical, covering some of the greatest shows, from "West Side Story" to "Sweeney Todd." Sondheim's analysis of his and others' lyrics is insightful and candid, and his anecdotes are telling and often very funny."
In an upcoming BWW Book Review Roundup, BroadwayWorld.com's Naomi Plume writes: "O.K. THIS is why I love books. You could NEVER appreciate this kind of book in and e-form or i-form or kindle .. or anything. You want to touch it, review, mark, highlight, study, etc. a volume of this caliber. Just extraordinary. This is a MUST-HAVE .. and be sure to leave room on the shelf for volume 2, as this is just volume 1, covering up to the year 1981. This is a SURE-THING gift for any occasion and the musical theatre lover on your list .... Including yourself. What you have here is BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! Don't hesitate. You'll thank me."
To purchase the book, click here.
Stephen Sondheim has won seven Tonys, an Academy Award, seven Grammys, a Pulitzer Prize and the Kennedy Center Honors. His career has spanned more than half a century, his lyrics have become synonymous with musical theater and popular culture, and in Finishing the Hat-titled after perhaps his most autobiographical song, from Sunday in the Park with George-Sondheim has not only collected his lyrics for the first time, he is giving readers a rare personal look into his life as well as his remarkable productions.
Along with the lyrics for all of his musicals from 1954 to 1981-including West Side Story, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd-Sondheim treats us to never-before-published songs from each show, songs that were cut or discarded before seeing the light of day. He discusses his relationship with his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his collaborations with extraordinary talents such as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Ethel Merman, Richard Rodgers,Angela Lansbury, Harold Prince and a panoply of others. The anecdotes-filled with history, pointed observations and intimate details-transport us back to a time when theater was a major pillar of American culture. Best of all, Sondheim appraises his work and dissects his lyrics, as well as those of others, offering unparalleled insights into songwriting that will be studied by fans and aspiring songwriters for years to come.
Accompanying Sondheim's sparkling writing are behind-the-scenes photographs from each production, along with handwritten music and lyrics from the songwriter's personal collection.
Penetrating and surprising, poignant, funny and sometimes provocative, Finishing the Hat is not only an informative look at the art and craft of lyric writing, it is a history of the theater that belongs on the same literary shelf as Moss Hart's Act One and Arthur Miller's Timebends. It is also a book that will leave you humming the final bars of Merrily We Roll Along, while eagerly anticipating the next volume, which begins with the opening lines of Sunday in the Park with George.