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Sondheim Stephen Joshua

( Music)

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Stephen Joshua Sondheim (22.03.1930 year [New York])

"In our time nobody, nobody but him did so much to make the heart beat of Broadway with the same force". L. Bernstein

Stephen Joshua Sondheim (Stephen Joshua Sondheim) - the living classic of American musical theater, the composer and librettist, and seventy-four years is an innovator in their field. Boldly experimenting with music and text, he radically changed the shape and content of the Broadway musical, by appearing at the same time, a worthy successor of the traditions of their great predecessors.

. Future reformer musical genre was born March 22, 1930 in the family of Herbert and Janet Sondheim
. The boy's father was a successful New York clothing manufacturer, and his mother - a fashion designer. In four years, Steve began to pick up the piano melody, and the composer Aaron Copland (Aaron Copland) noted his talent. Take piano lessons Stephen began seven years. Two years later, the boy's parents divorced, and Janet and her son moved to Bucks County in Pennsylvania. Their neighbor was a veteran librettist Oscar Hammerstein II. Just at that time he worked on "Oklahoma" - the first musical written by him together with Richard Rogers.

This neighborhood has strengthened Stephen's desire to dedicate his life to musical theater, and Oscar Hammerstein became his mentor and friend. "I then studied at the Quaker school, George School, - later recalled composer -" and composed for the school musical "By George" ( "By George", 1945). Oscar said: "There is nothing worse than I ever saw". And explained why. That day I learned a lot about the art of composing a song, . as the structure to make it similar to the one-act play, . importance, . make it simple, . how important each word and the role of content, . ability to express it, . that you want to express myself, . not someone else ",
. The admiration of the young Sondheim Oscar Hammerstein was so great that, according to him, if Oscar was a geologist, he too would have them become.

. When admitted to Williams College in Massachusetts, . Sondheim, . originally intended to specialize in mathematics, . a course of music with Professor Robert Barrow (Robert Barrow), . and, . After graduation with honors, . Hutchinson received a scholarship to study with avant-garde composer Milton Babbitt (Milton Babbit),
. Babbitt, as subsequently Sondheim, called intellectuals of the music. He is fond of American popular culture and mathematics, and this love shared Stephen. Not surprisingly, the teacher and pupil "sang" at the very first lesson. Under the guidance of his mentor Sondheim concerned with an analysis of the structure and harmonic structure known classical works and popular musicals.

. Two years later, Stephen went to Hollywood, where he wrote scripts for the eleven episodes of the series "Topper" ( "Topper", 1953-54).

. Returning to his native New York, Sondheim sought to become a professional writing musicals
. Because of the death written producer of the show "Saturday Night" ( "Saturday Night", 1955) has not been delivered and saw the limelight only in 1997 in London.

. Once at a party Sondheim ran into the famous writer Arthur Lourentsa (Arthur Laurents)
. Stephen learned from him that, together with composer Leonard Bernstein (Leonard Bernstein) and the choreographer Jerome Robbins (Jerome Robbins) Lourents working on the adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet, and their team lacks the author of songs. Lourents invited to talk with Sondheim Bernstein. Sondheim otherwise imagined her Broadway debut - he dreamed of seeing on the stage musical, which would have sounded not only the texts but also the music - and yet he agreed to take part in the project.

. Musical "West Side Story" ( "West Side Story") was presented to the audience in 1957
. Musical talked about two rival New York gangs, consisting of Puerto Rican and Polish immigrants, and about love Tony - the former leader of Polish immigrants to Mary - the sister of the leader of Puerto Ricans. Originally, Bernstein had planned to compose a song texts himself, and Sondheim was necessary to him only as a sponsor. But the composer was so struck by the poetry of Sondheim, which subsequently ruled out even its name from the list of authors of texts.

. "West Side Story" became a Sondheim for the first professional experience on Broadway and taught him to treat complex scenes, which were previously considered unsuitable for musical theater
. Unlike Shakespeare's comedies, to "West Side Story" Shakespeare no one considered as a basis for the Broadway musical, no one tried to talk openly about the problems of contemporary American society.

. The next show, where Stephen once again acted as the creator of the lyrics, was the musical "Gypsy" ( "Gypsy"), created on the basis of his autobiography burlesque queen, Gypsy Rose Lee
. Originally it was planned that Sondheim is also writing the music, but the star of the American musical theater, Ethel Merman (Ethel Merman), which is going to play a major role, insisted on the nomination of Jules Stein (Jule Styne).

. Premiere of the musical took place in 1959, and the play immediately became a hit season
. In 1973, the musical "Gypsy" was raised in London, with Angela Lansbury (Angela Lansbury) in the role of Rose, and a year later opened on Broadway. Another Broadway production of the play dates back to 1989. In 2003, the musical was once again restored on Broadway, she performed the role of Mama Rose, Bernadette Peters (Bernadette Peters).

. In an interview with Sondheim Broadway critics to Frank Rich composer so defined his credo: "I have always consciously tried not to repeat"
. Sondheim was not enough laurels for the author's texts, he dreamed of his own show, for which could write not only songs but also music. His first work was the composer's musical "Funny story, . happened by the way the forum "(" A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum ", . 1962) on the play by Plautus, . created in collaboration with librettists Larry Gelbart (Larry Gelbart) and Bert Shivilavom (Burt Shevelove),
. This musical comedy brought Sondheim in 1963, his first Tony Award and is still considered the most successful musical-farce (964 views). In 1966 he released self-titled film directed by Richard Lester (Richard Lester). In the role of hero starred a young, unknown at that time not known actor Michael Crawford (Michael Crawford). Unfortunately, a significant number of Sondheim songs on the soundtrack is not included.

The second half of the sixties did not bring the composer of significant victories. Fourth in April 1964 opened the show, everyone knows how to whistle "(" Anyone Can Whistle "). The Musical, created in collaboration with Arthur Lourentsom, was a bold social satire in the genre of comedy of the absurd. Unfortunately, then, as now, the average Broadway audience was not configured on the perception of such performances. At that time he was more on the soul of traditional musicals like "Hello, Dolly!" ( "Hello, Dolly!") And "Funny Girl" ( "Funny Girl"). Criticism is mainly assessed musicals as "madness", the audience cold assimilated the play, and after nine submissions, he was removed from display.

. In 1968, together with Leonard Bernstein Stephen Sondheim has made yet another attempt to co-creation, . however, . Unlike "West Side Story" is a failure: Their musical project entitled "Exception and Rule" ( "The Exception And The Rule") was not supported by producers.,

. Works of Stephen Sondheim reached its heyday in the seventies, when it started its cooperation with the famous Broadway director Hal Prins (Hal Prince)
. Experimenting with a traditional theatrical form, as a musical comedy, they completely transformed the American musical.

. Their first collaborative effort was the musical "Company" ( "Company"), telling about the lives of five couples from New York, their mutual friend, a confirmed bachelor and his three lovers
. In the absence of routinely expressed storyline, this work was the novel, marking the beginning of an era "concept musicals". "Company" a sensation and brought its creators Grammy.

Then came the show "Madness" ( "Follies") - an elegant parody-pastichcho creativity Kern, Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Dorothy Fields and others. composers of the older generation, a musical about the death of the American Dream, lost opportunities and fatal mistakes of youth.

. In 1973 on Broadway called "Little Serenade" ( "A Little Night Music"), a musical based on the movie by Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night"
. The performance brings the composer a third Tony Award, and the song "produces clowns" ( "Send In The Clowns") becomes a hit and receives a Grammy. In 1978, Hal Prince takes self-titled film with Elizabeth Taylor in the title role.

. In 1974, in the swimming pool at Yale University on 8 representations of the shortest of sondhaymovskih musicals - "Frogs" ( "The Frogs"), based on the play by Aristophanes, processed Bert Shivilavom
. Interestingly, in the chorus of this production was the future star of American cinema Meryl Streep.

In 1976 he went "Pacific Overtures" ( "Pacific Overtures") - fusion of American and traditional Japanese theater, Kabuki ". The play tells the story of the opening of Japan and the transformation of the ancient state on the island of Nippon from an underdeveloped country in today's advanced Power. The text was written by Sondheim in a way that minimal use of words with Latin roots in the early musicals, gradually increasing their number by the end. Music is the borrowing and the development of traditional Japanese motifs and are accompanied by traditional musical instruments of the Far East. For the Broadway musical productions have been invited Japanese artists.

The top co-creation Sondheim and Prince was the play "Sweeney Todd, the bloody barber of Fleet Street" ( "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street", 1979). Blurred boundaries between the texts of songs and dialogue in a complex plot were written brightest emotions - as a result of the spectators can enjoy a unique musical thriller. This musical brought its creators another Tony Award.

Many critics felt that the place of those countries, beyond the classification of works for musical theater - at the opera. Indeed, . Sondheim musicals can be found on posters opera: "Sweeney Todd" and "Little Serenade" are included in the repertoire of the New York City Opera, . and the British premiere staging "Pacific Overture" was held at the English National Opera,
. Others thought that Sondheim simply created a new kind of musical - a musical concept. The difficult-to-understand music, . literary approach to composing texts, . free treatment of stage time, . use, . seemingly, . incompatible theater techniques, . abstract and surreal images, . dark humor and pessimism of the author - all this was alien to the traditional Broadway musical with its memorable melodies, . optimistic and good-natured humor, . and therefore placed in a critical impasse.,

. Another co-production of Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince's "We are going, going, going" ( "Merrily We Roll Along", 1981) failed, and as a result of this setback, the team disbanded
. Then Sondheim turned to director James Lapin (James Lapine), . with which created the following musicals - "Sunday in the Park with George" ( "Sunday In The Park With George", . 1984), . tells of, . how difficult it is to engage the artist in the art of selling the commercial world and to reconcile work with the ordinariness "normal" life,
. This musical was marked by the Pulitzer Prize in 1984.

Next Sondheim show "The Forest" ( "Into The Woods", 1987) invites the viewer to an unexpected interpretation of the familiar from childhood fairy tales. Traditional fairy-tale characters, . such as Cinderella, . Rapunzel, . Witch, . Little Red Riding Hood and other, . tells a parable about making their own adult decisions and about, . what is hidden under the guise of familiar things, . that really is good and evil,
. The first act of the musical is a retelling of classic fairy tales, stories which are interwoven. After the "happy end" when all the fairy-tale characters gain happiness in the second act shows what would happen to them after the words "and they lived happily, ever after so good," if the tale went on in real life. In this musical was a different Sondheim - less intransigent, more accessible to the public. The composer was immediately charged that he has taken on a purely commercial work for audiences.

The answer to these accusations was the musical "Assassins" ( "Assassins", 1990), which tells the story of attacks on U.S. presidents. In the play the spectator confronted with a provocative story and deeply sympathetic characters, and the use of traditional American song forms in combination with black irony was perceived as a mockery of American values. As always, most critics did not take a new job Sondheim. In addition, off-Broadway premiere coincided with the beginning of the war in Iraq, and against the unity of the nation theme show seemed then not patriotic. Subsequently, the performance still be in demand on Broadway and will be a success in 2004 during the presidency J. Bush (the Younger) and the second Iraq campaign.

In 1994, at the premiere of the Broadway musical "Passion" ( "Passion") on the film Ettore Scola (Ettore Scola) "Passione d'Amore" (1981) and the novel "Fosca" Higino Hugo Tarkett (Iginio Ugo Tarchetti). Written and directed the play was again James Lapin. The active musical heroes are the Italian army officer Giorgio, his mistress, a married woman Clara and Fosco - a terminally ill sister, another officer. When Fosco first sees Giorgio, she passionately, but without reciprocity falls in love with him. Fosco's passion is so strong and deep that Giorgio gradually susceptible her charms and parted with Clara. Fosco won, but at what cost? After the first night of love, she dies without having gone through the emotional turmoil. The meaning of the musical concluded in the last words that Fosco and Giorgio repeat in the finale: "If you will die tomorrow, your love will continue to live in me."

. Among the most brilliant musical numbers, . written by Sondheim for various musicals, . compiled several revue: "Near Sondheim" ( "Side by Side by Sondheim", . 1976), . "Marry me a little bit" ( "Marry Me a Little", . 1980), . "Adding together" ( "Putting It Together", . 1992).,

. In addition to musicals, Sondheim wrote music and songs to several films: "Staviski" ( "Stavisky", 1974, starring Jean-P
. Belmondo), "seven percent solution" ( "The Seven Percent Solution", 1976), "Red" ( "Reds", 1981), "Dick Tracy" ( "Dick Tracy", 1990, in roles - Madonna, Mandy Patinkin), "birdcage" ( "The Birdcage", 1996). And the film "The Last of Sheila" (1973) Sondheim, together with Anthony Perkins (Anthony Perkins) was written script.

. For Sondheim characterized by innovation, creativity and revolutionary spirit, manifested in the constant search of new expressive forms and experimenting with musical styles, texts, subjects and situations
. Each extends the scope of his musical Broadway shows, starting with the plot and music to texts of songs and dialogues. Thus, Peru Sondheim owned "a musical without a plot" ( "Company"), "a musical without the actors" ( "Pacific Overtures"), a musical, whose action develops over time in the opposite direction ( "Merrily We Roll Along").

. The search for new forms could not help but reflect on the musical language of the master
. Composer-playwright Stephen Sondheim considers the music and the word as a means to tell a story and reveal the nature of his characters. Although Sondheim had never publicly criticized his antagonist, . Andrew Lloyd-Webber, . about the composers-melodist he speaks quite clearly: "They are so eager to give meaning to, . that compose, . that begin with the ringing, . instead of plot and imagery ",
. By themselves, out of context, musical themes Sondheim may not affect the beauty of the melodies, and often they are even difficult to distinguish from the musical fabric works, however, blame Stephen Sondheim in otsutvii melodic gift could not be. Songs from his show - "Being Alive", "Broadway Baby", "Send in the Clowns", "Loosing My Mind", "Not a Day Goes By" and others. became Broadway standards.

The complexity of Sondheim music, as well as the provocative nature of many of Broadway for the use of stories, apparently, and are the reasons for the relatively small commercial success of his musicals. Many of the performances to the music of Sondheim was shown on Broadway only a few times. Nevertheless, this does not prevent the composer to be a symbol of the modern American musical theater and provide a guide for those who believe the genre musical art form, and not just entertainment.

. Over the long creative life Sondheim awarded numerous prizes and awards, . among them - six Tony awards for best music for musicals ( "Into the Woods", . "Sweeney Todd", . "A Little Night Music", . "Follies", . "Company", . "Passion"), . Eight awards of the New York Drama Critics (New York Drama Critics Circle Awards) (for the six aforementioned musicals, . and "Pacific Overtures" and "Sunday in the Park with George"), . Pulitzer Prize ( "Sunday in the Park with George), . National Medal for achievements in the arts (National Medal of Arts Award), . highest award in Japan (Praemium Imperiale) for achievements in the arts, . Award of the American Society of Composers, . authors and publishers, Richard Rodgers (ASCAP),
. Sondheim is a member of the Dramatists Guild (Council of the Dramatist Guild), . 1973 to 1981 he served as president of this organization, . and in 1983 was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (American Academy of Arts and Letters),
. In 1990 the composer was appointed Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theater at Oxford University in 1993, received an award from the Kennedy Center (Kennedy Center Honors).

. Stephen Sondheim has actively supported emerging composers and librettists working in the genre of musical theater
. Grants Sondheim at various times received such young writers like Jonathan Larson (Jonathan Larson; "Rent", "tick, tick: BOOM!") And Adam Gettel (Adam Guettel; "Floyd Collins", "Myths and Hymns").

. The works of Sondheim is well known not only in the U.S. and Britain - the traditional centers of the world of musical theater
. There are numerous national productions of his musicals around the world - from Spain to Brazil.

. The latest project to date is the Sondheim musical "Courage" ( "Bounce"), which premiered June 30, 2003 in the theater Goodman (Goodman Theatre) in Chicago
. Originally planned musical called "Gold" ( "Gold!"), In the process of working on it the name was changed to the "Geniuses" ( "Wise Guys"). Last name "Bounce" received a musical under the name of the first musical number. The action of the play takes place in America since the Gold Rush, he tells about the adventures of brothers Edison and Wilson Mayznerov trying to catch their luck. Musical was directed by an old friend of Sondheim Hal Prince. Although praised by critics of the musical material, the premier was met with mostly negative reviews of the press, and plans to show the play on Broadway is not realized.

. The year 2004 was for Sondheim saturated in terms of new productions of his works
. In addition to the above-mentioned the Broadway premiere of the musical "Assassins", in June 2004 on Broadway, opens an updated version of the musical "The Frogs", delivered by the script completely revised and includes new songs written by Sondheim. In July 2004 scheduled next Broadway musical "Pacific Overtures". In the same year marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the musical "Sweeney Todd", which coincides with its new production in West End. In addition, it is anticipated film adaptation of this work.

. Sondheim himself once shared supervision, . that on Broadway every twenty-five years is a change of generations of composers, . because of the old styles of music come new, . and confessed, . that he himself was surprised, . that even in a respectable age continues to write music, . interesting so many people,
. There is no denying that the change in the style of Sondheim's musical theater comes to something new, but there is no doubt that the career of the master for a long time does not lose its relevance, and each of its work will be open to spectators all the new facets of the genre.


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