American musical legend Stephen Sondheim dies at 91

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Washington (AFP) – Stephen Sondheim, American musical legend and “West Side Story” lyricist, died on Friday at the age of 91, a spokesperson said.

His lawyer, F. Richard Pappas, told the New York Times that Stephen Sondheim died suddenly at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut (northeast of the country), after celebrating Thanksgiving with his friends the day before.

Rick Miramontez, spokesperson for one of his plays, “Company”, currently performing on Broadway, confirmed his death to AFP.

Trained at a young age by the great master of the musical Oscar Hammerstein (“Show Boat”, “The Melody of Happiness”), Stephen Sondheim was hired at only 25 years old to write the lyrics for the now legendary “West Side Story”, her first Broadway show, later adapted for the screen.

Born March 22, 1930 in New York City, he was considered one of the greatest composers of musicals.

He had notably worked on “Sweeney Todd”, “Gypsy”, “Sunday in the Park with George”, “A Little Night Music”, as a composer or lyricist.

During his long career, this Broadway giant has won eight Grammy Awards, as many Tony Awards, an Oscar, as well as a Pulitzer Prize.

Composer Stephen Sondheim in New York City on November 18, 2013 Stephen Lovekin GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Stephen Sondheim, whose parents worked in fashion, had a passion for musical theater from an early age.

After working on television, or writing crosswords for New York Magazine, it is thanks to “West Side Story” that he rose to fame.

“Terrible loss”

In 2015, Barack Obama, then President of the United States, awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.

“To put it simply, Stephen has reinvented the American musical,” Barack Obama said. “His music is so beautiful, his lyrics so precise, that even when he exposes the imperfections of everyday life, he transcends them.”

Actress and singer Anna Kendrick lamented a “terrible loss” on Friday.

“A few days ago, I was telling someone how fun (and really difficult) it is to sing Stephen Sondheim. Performing his works has been one of the greatest privileges of my career,” he said. -she reacted on Twitter.

Actor Hugh Jackman, for his part, expressed his gratitude to the lyricist.

“Every once in a while someone comes in and fundamentally changes an entire artistic genre. Stephen Sondheim was one of them. As millions of people mourn his passing, I also want to express my gratitude for all that he has done. ‘gave, to me and to so many others, “he wrote.

“We have lost a great artist and a great New Yorker today,” said Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of the city.

Two of Stephen Sondheim’s plays, “Company” and “Assassins,” were performed on Broadway this fall.

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American musical legend Stephen Sondheim dies at 91