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For further information on his life and works, see CLC, Volumes 30 and Widely considered to be one of the foremost composers and lyricists of modern musicals, Sondheim has revolutionized American musical theatre, although his work has been only moderately successful at the box office.
His productions typically include themes of disillusionment, despair, and disappointment—elements that were rarely incorporated into musicals before his era. In his lyrics for plays ranging from West Side Story to Passion Sondheim has spurned such long-standing traditions of musical theatre as catchy melodies and linear plots, and instead, worked introspective and thematic material into his compositions.
Some critics have characterized his lyrics as stylistically sophisticated, while others have deemed them cold and unromantic.
His father was a successful clothing manufacturer and skilled pianist, and his mother was a talented dress designer. Sondheim and his mother moved from New York to a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, three miles from the family of Oscar Hammerstein II, a renowned Broadway composer and lyricist, with whom he eventually became acquainted.
Upon graduation inhe accepted a two-year fellowship that allowed him to study with composer Milton Babbitt, another major influence on his work, and later moved to live with his father in New York City. There, he met many influential artists who helped him to launch his career, including composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, who hired him to write lyrics for West Side Story in After completing the lyrics for Gypsy inSondheim composed his first original musical score and wrote the lyrics for the production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
InSondheim accepted a visiting professorship at Oxford University, where he lectured on musical theatre. Since the, he has written Assassins and Passion Inhe premiered Saturday Night, a musical he first wrote in but never produced. These themes are influenced by the time period in which Sondheim wrote many of his works—the s and s—when many Americans re-evaluated their cultural ideals.
Follies directly confronts the disrespect encountered by theatre actors in American society. Set at a reunion of former showgirls, the work portrays the death of the musical genre, represented by the imminent demolition of a once-famous theatre.
Anyone Can Whistle illustrates the persecution of nonconformists in a conformist world, suggesting that the insane are in fact sane, and the sane are insane.
Sweeney Todd, examines corruption in American society and the improprieties of the U. Assassins unites killers and would-be killers of American presidents from various time periods. He characterizes their motives as stemming from a deep political and personal discontent with society.
Company vividly portrays disharmony within marriage, an institution that generally provided happy resolutions in the musical genre.
In this play a bachelor contemplates the quality of several relationships at a birthday party thrown by his married friends, who appear in his thoughts, providing their own ambivalent feelings toward commitment and marriage. Merrily We Roll Along shows the callous nature that develops in relationships over time, tracing the lives of a group of friends backwards in time.
In the musical, Fosca, an irredeemably ugly woman, falls in love with a handsome soldier, who loves a beautiful married woman instead. By sheer will and unquenchable passion, Fosca eventually seduces the soldier.
Critical Reception Critics have generally praised Sondheim for his revolutionary ideas and his artistic sophistication—even those who find his work dark and depressing. Sondheim has been acknowledged for ushering modernism into the musical theater.
Nevertheless, consistent critical responses to his work eluded him until Company, which was acclaimed for its honesty, realism, artistic maturity, and stylistic innovation. Critics attacked the unlikable characters in Merrily We Roll Along, and reviewers faulted Assassins for its obscure structure and violently disrespectful content in light of the Persian Gulf War.
Many commentators view the lack of melody as the means by which Sondheim gives his works a sense of depth, originality, and intensity.
Other critics have called this technique uninteresting and incohesive. A majority of critics have hailed the technique as dramatically unifying, while a firm minority see it as inherently inferior to the synthetic style of the traditional Broadway musical.
Most critics, however, agree that Sondheim is a major force in contemporary musical theater, confirming his technical, aesthetic, and stylistic talents.Existentialism (/ ˌ ɛ ɡ z ɪ ˈ s t ɛ n ʃ əl ɪ z əm /) is a tradition of philosophical inquiry associated mainly with certain 19th and 20th-century European philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual.
News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services. Reading Stephen Sondheim: A Collection of Critical Essays. Edited by Sandor Goodhart. Studies in Modern Drama, no. New York: Garland, ; pp. xxii + $ cloth, $ paper.
In his preface, editor Sandor Goodhart acknowledges the authors mentioned above but . Reading Stephen Sondheim: A Collection of Critical Essays by Sandor Goodhart First Published in Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
ashio-midori.com: Reading Stephen Sondheim: A Collection of Critical Essays (Studies in Modern Drama) (): Sandor Goodhart: Books In that essay, Goodhart tries to tie its subtexts to Sondheim's extremely problematic relationship with his mother, in particular the notorious letter that Foxy Sondheim sent to her son before her pacemaker /5(4).
Download Citation on ResearchGate | Reading Stephen Sondheim: A Collection of Critical Essays (review) | Theatre Journal () From May .