Broadway Community Reacts to Stephen Sondheim's Passing

The legendary composer is widely acknowledged as the most innovative, most influential, and most important composer and lyricist in modern Broadway history.

By: Nov. 26, 2021

BroadwayWorld was saddened to report earlier this evening that Broadway icon Stephen Sondheim has passed away at the age of 91. In the wake of his passing, there has been an outpouring of grief from the Broadway community and beyond. Below, see how Sondheim's colleagues and friends are reacting to the loss of this musical theatre giant.

The legendary composer is widely acknowledged as the most innovative, most influential, and most important composer and lyricist in modern Broadway history.

Stephen Sondheim has received an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer, including a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre), eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Laurence Olivier Award, and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2010 the Broadway theater formerly known as Henry Miller's Theatre was renamed in his honor. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2015.

Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for Saturday Night (1954), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1962), Anyone Can Whistle (1964), Follies (1972), A Little Night Music (1973), The Frogs (1974), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Into The Woods (1987), Assassins (1991), Passion (1994) and Road Show (2008), as well as lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), Do I Hear A Waltz? (1965) and additional lyrics for Candide (1973). Side By Side By Sondheim (1976), Marry Me A Little (1981), You're Gonna Love Tomorrow (1983), Putting It Together(1993/99), Moving On (2001), and Sondheim On Sondheim (2010) are anthologies of his work as composer and lyricist.

Read his full obituary here.

Dramatists Guild:

The Dramatists Guild mourns the loss of Stephen Sondheim, one of the greatest musical theatre writers of all time, and a passionate member of the Guild for over 63 years. He joined in 1957 when working on West Side Story and served as DG Council President for eight years from 1973-1981.

Having benefitted as a young writer from the mentorship of Oscar Hammerstein II, Steve made it his life's mission to pass that gift along. He mentored the careers of scores of writers and artists, including Jonathan Larson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Adam Guettel, Amanda Green, and Jason Robert Brown, among others. He championed emerging writers and made it his business to see new work. Almost anyone who wrote to him could be assured of a reply back, on his thick creamy stationery, typed and with his distinguished hand signature.

To nurture and encourage the next generation of theatre writers, he founded the Young Playwrights Inc. in 1981, which identified and supported aspiring school age playwrights for more than 30 years. Its alumni include Jonathan Marc Sherman, Isaac Oliver, Lynn Nottage, Kenneth Lonergan, Stephen Karam, Julia Jarcho, Lucas Hnath, Lauren Gunderson, Keith Glover, Rebecca Gilman, Madeleine George, Halley Feiffer, Lucy Alibar, Zakiyyah Alexander, and many more.

He counted among his collaborators former DG President John Weidman (Pacific Overtures, Assassins, Road Show) and current DG Council Member James Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Passion). He was working on a new musical with former long-serving Council member David Ives at the time of his death. His legendary decades-long partnership with producer and director Harold Prince brought nine new musicals to the stage, in collaboration with Guild members including George Furth, Larry Gelbart, Arthur Laurents, Burt Shevelove, and Hugh Wheeler.

We thank him for his brilliance and his incalculable contributions to theatre, the exquisite shows and songs which will live on. But also for his profound generosity and his commitment to serving, protecting, and celebrating the craft, the well-being and livelihood of theatre writers, and to mentoring others. His memory and work are already a blessing. May his life be an example to us all.

"The theatre has lost one of its greatest geniuses and the world has lost one of its greatest and most original writers. Sadly, there is now a giant in the sky. But the brilliance of Stephen Sondheim will still be here as his legendary songs and shows will be performed for evermore. Goodbye old friend and thank you from all of us."

Cameron Mackintosh
26 November 2021