Sondheim, Stephen

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Name
Sondheim, Stephen Gender: M
Stephen Joshua Sondheim
born on 22 March 1930 at 21:00 (= 9:00 PM )
Place New York, New York, 40n43, 74w0
Timezone EST h5w (is standard time)
Data source
From memory
Rodden Rating A
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 01°43' s_mo.18.gif s_capcol.18.gif 12°09 Asc.s_scocol.18.gif 06°10'



Stephen Sondheim (ca. 1976)

Biography

American composer and lyricist whose scores include the lyrics for West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959) and the words and music for A Little Night Music (1973). "Send in the Clowns", a song from the latter musical, became Sondheim's best-known song. His honours include an Oscar, nine Tonys, eight Grammys, the New York Drama Critics Award, a Pulitzer Prize, a Laurence Olivier Award, and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom. He co-authored many films and TV productions, and frequently worked in collaboration. His homosexuality was made public in a 1999 biography, Stephen Sondheim: A Life.

Sondheim was the only child of a father who was a prominent New York dress manufacturer, and a rejecting and controlling mother, Janet, known to friends and associates as "Foxy", first a fashion designer and then an interior decorator. A precocious child, he picked out tunes on the piano at the age of four and in first grade read his way through the New York Times. His life was in upheaval when, at age ten, his parents divorced and his mother sent him to military school. His dad remarried and produced two younger stepbrothers. His mother threatened to jail his dad if Sondheim ever saw his stepmother because she was an "immoral woman," while Foxy was the one who acted in an inappropriately seductive way with her son.

Military school agreed with Sondheim because he loved rules and order. After the divorce he and his mother moved to Doylestown, Pennsylvania where Oscar Hammerstein II, an old friend of the family, had a farm. The Hammersteins had a son, Jimmy, who was Sondheim's age and he spent so much of his spare time at the celebrated lyricist's home that the Hammersteins became a surrogate family to him. Hammerstein introduced him to the musical theatre and at the age of 15 Sondheim and two classmates wrote a musical, By George, for the George School. Showing his score to his mentor, he asked him to criticize it objectively. Not only did Hammerstein tell him it was the worst thing he'd ever read but showed him why. He learned how to build songs, how to introduce characters, how to make songs relate to characters, how to tell a story, how not to tell a story, and the interrelationships between lyric and musical.

His musical training was sporadic, having had a year of piano when he was 7, a year of organ at 11, a year of piano at 14, and another year at 19. Sondheim graduated from the George School in 1946 and then attended Williams College where he majored in music taking a course of study suggested by Hammerstein.

When he graduated magna cum laude in 1950 he was awarded the Hutchinson prize, a two-year fellowship to study music and compose. He used the fellowship to study with avant-garde composer Milton Babbitt in New York. Around 1953 Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for a musical called Saturday Night, but when the producer, Lemuel Ayers, died suddenly the project was abandoned. Waiting for another chance to break into Broadway, he went to Hollywood and became a co-scriptwriter for the NBC TV comedy series Topper.

In 1955 he was introduced to Leonard Bernstein who was impressed with his songs for Saturday Night. Bernstein offered Sondheim the chance to write the lyrics for a new project, West Side Story. When it opened on 26 September 1957 West Side Story was acclaimed as a moving and innovative musical and began his career on Broadway.

In 1957 he was hired to write both the music and lyrics for Gypsy but at the last moment the star, Ethel Merman, refused to take a chance on an unknown composer and Jule Styne was brought in to compose the music. On opening night, 21 May 1959, Gypsy opened to rave reviews and ran for two years.

For several years Sondheim worked with playwright Burt Shevelove on an idea for a play derived from the comedies of the classical Roman playwright Plautus. Finally persuading the co-producer of West Side Story, Harold Prince, to back the project, A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum opened on 8 May 1962 starring Zero Mostel. The play was enormously popular and ran for 964 performances.

Success was followed by a slump period with Sondheim writing the music and lyrics for Anyone Can Whistle (1964), with only nine performances. In 1965 he didn't fare well with the musical Do I Hear a Waltz?

Finally on 26 April 1970, Company opened on Broadway, ran for 18 months and won many awards including, for Sondheim, the Tony awards for best lyrics and score as well as the Variety-New York Drama Critics poll awards for best composer and lyricist.

When Follies opened on 4 April 1971 and the critics were sharply divided on their assessment of Sondeim's score, he again won the Tony and Variety-Critics Poll awards for his music and lyrics.

In a change of pace Sondheim again teamed up with Harold Prince to create a romantic, operetta-like musical called A Little Night Music. When the play opened on 25 February 1973 it was accorded the best reception of Sondheim's career. A Little Night Music won Sondheim his third straight Tony and was voted the year's best musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle.

Moody and intolerant of small talk, Sondheim could appear outwardly gruff, candid, and assured in his opinions. He showed disdain for critics who found fault with his music but admitted to being hyper-self-critical of his own work. A terrible procrastinator, he was also an inveterate game player and puzzle solver even inventing elaborate variations of Monopoly based on a friend's personality or work. Murder mysteries were another puzzle Sondheim liked to solve and with Tony Perkins he wrote the screenplay for the mystery thriller The Last of Sheila which was chosen to represent the U.S. at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.

The popularization of his work began in 1975 with the success of Judy Collins' Grammy Award-winning recording of "Send in the Clowns" and a small British revue Side by Side. It was Barbara Streisand's 1985 The Broadway Album that brought Sondheim to a new and broader audience reaching some people for the first time.

He wrote five songs for the 1990 film Dick Tracy, including "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)", sung in the film by Madonna, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

His musical Passion opened in April 1994 with problems. Major revisions in the show postponed it opening again on 9 May 1994 to wildly divergent reviews. His next work, The Doctor Is Out: A Comedy Thriller, opened on 17 September 1995 and was not a musical.

A bachelor, Sondheim was romantically linked with a number of women including Lee Remick. In the 1999 biography, Stephen Sondheim: A Life, by Meryle Secrest, Sondheim went public about his homosexuality and his relationship with Peter Jones, whom he met in 1991. Prior to the relationship with Jones, Sondheim felt the inability to let somebody else into his life, which he attributed to the shock of his parents' separation. Sondheim's bitterness towards his mother, who once wrote her son "the only regret I have in life is giving you birth," might have caused him to maintain a safe psychic distance from women.

He did not come out as gay until he was 40. He lived with dramatist Peter Jones for eight years in the 1990s. The composer married Jeffrey Scott Romley in 2017. They lived in Manhattan, New York and Roxbury, Connecticut. Sondheim died at his home in Roxbury on 26 November 2021 at the age of 91.

Link to Wikipedia biography

Relationships

  • compare to chart of Madonna (born 16 August 1958)

Events

  • Death of Significant person 23 August 1960 (Father figure, Oscar Hammerstein II)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Marriage 2017 (Jeffrey Scott Romley)

Source Notes

Joe Fitzgerald quotes from him in a letter 8/1983 for 3:30 AM.

However in June 2010, Deb McBride heard Sondheim correct the data; she wrote: "Mr. Sondheim brought up the topic of his birth time. He said for years he thought he was born at 3:30 am because his mother told him he was. This is the time stated in AstroDataBank and Solar Fire. He said many years later he found out from his father that he was actually born at 9:00 pm and it was a very easy birth. He maintains that his mother gave him the 3:30 birth time because she wanted him to feel guilty for keeping her up and in labor through all hours of the night, though none of this was true."

In January 2014, Edith Hathaway emailed another confirmation, quoting John Marchesella with: "I had a personal communication with Sondheim some years ago about his birth time, and indeed in a personal response from him, he confirmed his birth time as 9 p.m. " In consequence, Rodden Rating was upgraded to A (from himself).

Categories

  • Traits : Mind : Child prodigy (Musical)
  • Family : Childhood : Abuse - Neglect (Emotional)
  • Family : Childhood : Only child
  • Family : Childhood : Parents divorced
  • Family : Parenting : Kids none
  • Lifestyle : Work : Work in team/ Tandem (Often collaborated)
  • Passions : Sexuality : Gay
  • Personal : Death : Long life more than 80 yrs (Age 91)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Composer/ Arranger
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Song writer
  • Vocation : Writers : Playwright/ script
  • Notable : Awards : Grammy
  • Notable : Awards : Oscar
  • Notable : Awards : Public Service
  • Notable : Awards : Tony
  • Notable : Awards : Vocational award (New York Drama Critics Award)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession
  • Notable : Book Collection : Occult/ Misc. Collection