For the last 50 years, Stephen Sondheim has been considered one of America’s most talented, innovative, and exciting lyricists and composers. Frank Rich called him “the greatest . . . artist in the American musical theater.” A protégé of Oscar Hammerstein II, Sondheim has composed music and written lyrics for works in the mainstream of musical theater and also for those in a more adventuresome, experimental mode. His lyrics are among the finest ever crafted, and many of his melodies are singable and memorable. Other compositions, however, present challenges to those accustomed to traditional theater music.
In this course, we will cover both Sondheim’s mainstream and his experimental works, which I will illustrate using vintage videos of performances, interviews, and recordings of musicals on Blackboard. Students will have the engaging opportunity of hearing and seeing the works they are studying come to life.