Stephen Sondheim, fully Stephen Joshua Sondheim

Stephen
Sondheim, fully Stephen Joshua Sondheim
1930

American Composer and Lyricist, winner of multiple Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award, Author of Sweeney Todd

Author Quotes

I did not have an unhappy time, because it literally did not occur to me that other people had a family life. I saw my parents occasionally at night and on weekends, and I thought every child in New York lived that way.

Lenny Bernstein had a 12 room apartment at the Dakota. It was all big, spacious rooms inside this old-style New York City building that looked like a castle. But his studio, ... it was the size of a throw rug with a window that looked out on an airshaft. No distractions.... There was nothing to do there but work.

Oh if life were made of moments Even now and then a bad one — ! But if life were only moments, Then you'd never know you had one.

The last collaborator is your audience ... when the audience comes in, it changes the temperature of what you've written. Things that seem to work well — work in a sense of carry the story forward and be integral to the piece — suddenly become a little less relevant or a little less functional or a little overlong or a little overweight or a little whatever. And so you start reshaping from an audience.

When the audience comes in, it changes the temperature of what you've written.

I don't listen to recordings of my songs. I don't avoid it, I just don't go out of my way to do it.

Let me sing.

One difference between poetry and lyrics is that lyrics sort of fade into the background. They fade on the page and live on the stage when set to music.

The man I'll never be, who remembers him?

When you know your cast well and their strengths and weaknesses, you can start writing for them, just the way Shakespeare wrote for his actors.

A close-up on screen can say all a song can.

I fell into lyric writing because of music. I backed into it.

Let Pirelli's / Miracle Elixir / Activate your roots, sir... Keep it off your boots, sir- / Eats right through. Yes, get Pirelli's! / Use a bottle of it! / Ladies seem to love it... Flies do, too!

One of my favorite songs is "Something's Coming". It was written in less than 48 hours during early West Side Story rehearsals. The actor playing Tony just didn't have the kind of "weight" that made you want to follow his adventures. But he could sing a 2/4 song better than anybody. So I wrote the song thinking it would give him an opportunity to establish himself on the stage. And give him confidence. And then he would give the rest of the company confidence ... and it worked.

The more restrictions you have, the easier anything is to write.

Work is what you do for others, liebchen. Art is what you do for yourself.

After the Rodgers and Hammerstein revolution, songs became part of the story, as opposed to just entertainments in between comedy scenes.

I firmly believe lyrics have to breathe and give the audience's ear a chance to understand what's going on. Particularly in the theater, where you have costume, story, acting, orchestra.

Like a great black pit and the vermin of the world inhabit it... and it goes by the name of London.

One of the hardest things about writing lyrics is to make the lyrics sit on the music in such a way that you're not aware there was a writer there.

The movie adaptations of stage musicals that I've seen, without exception, in my opinion don't work. A lot of people would disagree with me.

You can't have personal investors anymore because it's too expensive, so you have to have corporate investment or a lot of rich people.

All the best performers bring to their role something more, something different than what the author put on paper. That's what makes theatre live. That's why it persists.

I like to speak in hyperbole. It’s my favorite language.

Lyrics have to be underwritten. That's why poets generally make poor lyric writers because the language is too rich. You get drowned in it.

Author Picture
First Name
Stephen
Last Name
Sondheim, fully Stephen Joshua Sondheim
Birth Date
1930
Bio

American Composer and Lyricist, winner of multiple Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award, Author of Sweeney Todd