A musical legend

Hailey Weiner

More stories from Hailey Weiner



Nov. 26, 2021: a grave day for the entertainment industry and musicians everywhere. Stephen Sondheim was an American composer and lyricist whose death left the music world in sorrow, but his legacy continues to live on. 

At age 91, Sondheim had experienced a life of fame, music, and accomplishments as an acclaimed composer. The songs he wrote were featured in some of the most commonly known Broadway shows, including “Sweeny Todd” and “Into the Woods.” Sondheim’s first Broadway show was “A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum.” In this classic, he had produced both the music and words. His most well-known piece was the beloved and very intricate lyrics in “West Side Story.”  

“I think the reason Sondheim is so influential in the theatre world is because his music is not only beautiful and intricate, but they all have a message. ‘West Side Story’ reminds us that we have to love not hate, and ‘Into the Woods’ explains that even fairytales are not perfect,” Andrea Crockett, junior, said. 

Sondheim has achieved various awards during his career as a Broadway musical composer. He received multiple Tony’s, Grammy’s, a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award, and several other honors for his great works. Sondheim was the face of the music industry as he continued to showcase his talents and artistry. Many labeled him as one of the most, if not the most, significant lyricist and composer of the 20th century, and he continued to push his limits and creativity up until his death. 

In the early ’70s, Sondheim won Tonys for his music and lyrics three years running for ‘Company,’ ‘Follies’ and ‘A Little Night Music.’ He also won Tonys for his music and lyrics for ‘Sweeney Todd’ in 1979, ‘Into the Woods’ in 1988, and ‘Passion’ in 1994. His personal Tony Awards tally stands at eight, including a lifetime achievement honor in 2008,” Dennis Mclellan, journalist, said in a Los Angeles Times article. 

Stephen Sondheim’s plays and creative works have sparked many serious conversations and debates. They often include intense themes, such as racial prejudice and violence, in order to get a specific message across.  

“Stephen Sondheim has impacted and changed the world of musical theatre for many years. Many of the musicals he composed are comments on social norms and explore themes such as loneliness and connections. My personal favorite show, ‘Company,’ is a commentary on the companionship which is essentially embedded in marriage,” Sofia Mayfield, senior, said. 

Throughout his life, Sondheim amazed and inspired the entirety of America with his stunning lyrics and music. After many years, Sondheim was peacefully laid to rest, but students at Etowah will never forget his talent and impact.