The Music Room > Composer Discussion

Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021)

(1/9) > >>

San Antone:
There was no thread devoted to Stephen Sondheim, so here goes.

I think Pacific Overtures is my favorite.

Ken B:

--- Quote from: sanantonio on May 15, 2015, 11:54:38 AM ---There was no thread devoted to Stephen Sondheim, so here goes.

I think Pacific Overtures is my favorite.

--- End quote ---

Sweeney Todd. Which might be the greatest opera/musical. It works dramatically in a way few do.

A Little Night Music is thoroughly brilliant. A Little Death is Sondheim's greatest song.

The rest is just mixed. Forum is a lot of fun but thin musically. Follies has a lot of remarkable songs but fails as a show. Park and Woods have good moments, but those moments sound like Todd. Overtures has good stuff, and the tree house song is brilliant, but I cannot rate it overall in the same league as his two best. On the other hand I have only heard not seen.

It might be unfair, since I do credit Sondheim with writing a better opera than Beethoven or Stravinsky after all, but I don't think he reached his potential. I think his potential was greater than that of any American composer.

San Antone:
I hold him in higher regard than you, Ken - but I take your points.  I was lucky enough to have been living in NYC when many of his greatest works were on Broadway, I've seen most with either original casts or revival NY productions.  NY City Opera (when it was thriving) did a couple.  They all have their merits, Company is a sentimental favorite since I worked on a (good) regional production as part of the light crew.

Ken B:

--- Quote from: sanantonio on May 15, 2015, 12:54:19 PM ---I hold him in higher regard than you, Ken - but I take your points.  I was lucky enough to have been living in NYC when many of his greatest works were on Broadway, I've seen most with either original casts or revival NY productions.  NY City Opera (when it was thriving) did a couple.  They all have their merits, Company is a sentimental favorite since I worked on a (good) regional production as part of the light crew.

--- End quote ---
Tunick's orchestration for that is maybe the most brilliant he's ever done. I don't always like it, but it fits perfectly.
That's another score with great songs that doesn't quite work as a show I think.

San Antone:
Since this thread is not generating much traffic, as the originator I will perform a modest about of curating.

Sondheim's parents divorced and he was sent to a variety of boarding schools, the last being the George School, where he wrote his first musical By George.  When Sondheim was about ten years old (around the time of his parents' divorce) he became friends with James Hammerstein, son of lyricist and playwright Oscar Hammerstein II. Hammerstein became Sondheim's surrogate father and ended up cultivating Sondheim's love of musical theater.


--- Quote ---The comic musical he wrote at George School, By George, was a success among his peers and buoyed the young songwriter's ego. When Sondheim asked Hammerstein to evaluate it as though he had no knowledge of its author, he said it was the worst thing he had ever seen: "But if you want to know why it's terrible, I'll tell you". They spent the rest of the day going over the musical, and Sondheim later said: "In that afternoon I learned more about songwriting and the musical theater than most people learn in a lifetime."
--- End quote ---

I consider Sondheim a master craftsman, which is obvious from his lyrics, but after spending some time with his music, the same craftsmanship shines forth.  A lover of puzzles of all kinds, Sondheim puts his shows together with a meticulous care for their formal aspects much like creating and solving a puzzle.

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version