Stephen Sondheim is a Jewish American composer and lyricist.
Born Stephen Joshua Sondeim on
March 22, 1930, in New York City. Sondheim had no formal Jewish education
or association, nor did he have a Bar
Mitzvah, but began to find his Jewish identity later in life. In
1950, he graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Sondheim worked under Oscar
Hammerstein II, and wrote the music for four of his shows: All
That Glitters, High Tor, Mary Poppins, Climb High.
None of these “assignment” musicals were produced professionally.
Sondheim went on to study composition with the famous composer Milton
At the age of twenty-five, Sondheim obtained his first
big break when he was asked to write the lyrics for West Side Story.
In 1959, he wrote the lyrics to the musical Gypsy. In 1962, Sondheim
wrote both the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical, A Funny
Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Between 1970 and 1981, Sondheim
collaborated with producer/director Harold Prince on six musicals. In
1970, he composed and wrote the lyrics for the musical Company.
In 1981, with the flop of Merrily We Roll Along, Sondheim ended
his partnership with Prince, and found a new collaborated in James Lapine.
In 1985, they released their first musical, Sunday in the Park with
George. In 1985, he won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for Sunday
in the Park with George. In 1987, the Sondheim-Lapine duo also produced
the popular show, Into the Woods.
Sondheim’s best-known song, “Send in the
Clowns”, has become a modern standard, covered by famous artists
such as Barbara Streisand and Frank Sinatra.
Sources: "Stephen Sondheim (1930 -
)." American Jewish
Historical Society, American
Jewish Desk Reference, (NY: Random
House, 1999). pg. 405-6, Internet Movie Database, Wikipedia