Stephen Sondheim: A Life

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9780747544166: Stephen Sondheim: A Life

Drawing on interviews with friends, family, collaborators and lovers, this biography of Stephen Sondheim looks to bring us not only the artist - as a master of modern compositional style - but also the private man.

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Review:

America's foremost musical-theater composer also proves to be a fascinatingly complex and conflicted human being in this meticulous biography by the always-capable Meryle Secrest (Being Bernard Berenson, etc.). Stephen Sondheim himself was interviewed for the book, as were many of his closest friends, and the author makes perceptive use of this material. Born in 1930, Sondheim was a successful Broadway lyricist (West Side Story and Gypsy) before he was 30. But the scars from a miserable childhood remained: he was inclined to be distant, hypercritical of those less intelligent than he, and terrified of serious emotional commitment. Critics sometimes found those qualities in the series of groundbreaking musicals he created with director Hal Prince--Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, and Sweeney Todd, to name four--but they agreed that he brought new intellectual ambition and artistic adventurousness to the musical theater. Secrest does a fine job of delineating Sondheim's career in terms of what it tells us about the state of American theater, as when he shifted to a partnership with writer-director James Lapine and worked in the nonprofit sector for such musicals as Sunday in the Park with George and Assassins. She also does well in selecting revealing quotes to depict the composer's struggle to accept his homosexuality and a rage at his overbearing mother so deep that he didn't even attend her funeral. Sondheim the man and Sondheim the visionary artist get nearly equal time in an intriguing portrait.

From the Inside Flap:

In the first full-scale life of the most
important composer-lyricist at work in musical theatre today, Meryle Secrest, the biographer of Frank Lloyd Wright and Leonard Bernstein, draws on her extended conversations with Stephen Sondheim as well as on her interviews with his friends, family, collaborators, and lovers to bring us not only the artist--as a master of
modernist compositional style--but also the private man.
Beginning with his early childhood on New York's prosperous Upper West Side, Secrest describes how Sondheim was taught to play the piano by his father, a successful dress manufacturer and amateur musician. She writes about Sondheim's early ambition to become a concert pianist, about the effect on him of his parents' divorce when he was ten, about his years in military and private schools. She writes about his feelings of loneliness and abandonment, about the refuge he found in the home of Oscar and Dorothy Hammerstein, and his determination to become just like Oscar.
Secrest describes the years when Sondheim was struggling to gain a foothold in the theatre, his attempts at scriptwriting (in his early twenties in Rome on the
set of Beat the Devil with Bogart and Huston, and later in Hollywood as a co-writer with George Oppenheimer for the TV series Topper), living the Hollywood life.
Here is Sondheim's ascent to the peaks of the Broadway musical, from his chance meeting with play-
wright Arthur Laurents, which led to his first success--
as co-lyricist with Leonard Bernstein on West Side Story--to his collaboration with Laurents on Gypsy, to his first full Broadway score, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. And Secrest writes about his first big success as composer, lyricist, writer in the 1960s with Company, an innovative and sophisticated musical that examined marriage à la mode. It was the start of an almost-twenty-year collaboration with producer and director Hal Prince that resulted in such shows as Follies, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, and
A Little Night Music.
We see Sondheim at work with composers, producers, directors, co-writers, actors, the greats of his time and ours, among them Leonard Bernstein, Ethel Merman, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Robbins, Zero Mostel, Bernadette Peters, and Lee Remick (with whom it was said he was in love, and she with him), as Secrest vividly re-creates the energy, the passion, the despair, the excitement, the genius, that went into the making of show after Sondheim show.
A biography that is sure to become the standard work on Sondheim's life and art.

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Meryle Secrest
Editorial: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, United Kingdom (1999)
ISBN 10: 0747544166 ISBN 13: 9780747544166
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Descripción Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, United Kingdom, 1999. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Drawing on interviews with friends, family, collaborators and lovers, this biography of Stephen Sondheim looks to bring us not only the artist - as a master of modern compositional style - but also the private man. Nº de ref. de la librería AAW9780747544166

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Descripción Bloomsbury Publishing, 1999. Estado de conservación: New. This item is printed on demand for shipment within 3 working days. Nº de ref. de la librería GM9780747544166

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Descripción Bloomsbury, 1999. Paperback. Estado de conservación: NEW. 9780747544166 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Nº de ref. de la librería HTANDREE0858903

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Meryle Secrest
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Descripción Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, United Kingdom, 1999. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. New edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Drawing on interviews with friends, family, collaborators and lovers, this biography of Stephen Sondheim looks to bring us not only the artist - as a master of modern compositional style - but also the private man. Nº de ref. de la librería AAW9780747544166

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Meryle Secrest
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Descripción Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 1999. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M0747544166

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