ROXBURY, CT (CelebrityAccess) — Stephen Sondheim, the award-winning composer and lyricist whose contributions to the lively arts include West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, and Gypsy, has died. He was 91.
According to the New York Times, Sondheim’s attorney F. Richard Pappas said he died suddenly at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut, early Friday morning.
A lyricist, songwriter and composer without equal in the annals of the modern theater, Sondheim accumulated an impressive collection of awards over the course of his career, including an Oscar, a Pulitzer, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and eight Tony Awards among numerous others.
Sondheim has been credited with reinventing the American musical, providing a fresh, musical take on subjects that often explored the darker sides of the human experience.
His first major Broadway success came when he was 27 and wrote the lyrics for Leonard Bernstein’s score of the musical drama “West Side Story” which proved to be a major hit with a run of almost 1,000 shows.
In 1959, Sondheim wrote lyrics for “Gypsy,” the story of Gypsy Rose Lee and her mother, with music by composer Jule Styne. Sondheim also wrote the music and lyrics for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” which also ran for almost 1,000 performances.
Sondheim also provided the music and lyrics for “A Little Night Music” 1973 which, on the strength of hits such as “Send in the Clowns” proved to be Sondheim’s greatest commercial success.
Not all of the shows he contributed to were successes. 1964’s “Anyone Can Whistle” featuring a young Angela Lansbury, closed after just 9 shows, while “Wiseguys” later renamed to bounce, never even reached Broadway.
Sondheim was the recipient of numerous awards during his career, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was presented to him by President Barak Obama in 2015, and the Kennedy Center, which honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 1993.