STEPHEN SONDHEIM'S BIRTHDAY
Silicon Valley, CA -- If one mentions the name STEPHEN SONDHEIM to anyone who is familiar with the Broadway's Musicals in New York City, the first thing that will come into the person's mind won't be his face, but the lyrics or the melody of one of his musicals. Even to this day, STEPHEN SONDHEIM is Broadway.
In his 91 years of life, the American composer and lyricist, who was born on March 22, l930, in New York City, has written the music and lyrics of sixteen full length musicals and the lyrics for the songs of three more. He is prolific.
" One of his many online biographies describes SONDHEIM as "a precocious child with an early musical aptitude." He studied piano and organ, and wrote his first musical while still a student of George School in Bucks county Pennsylvania from where he graduated at the age of 15. A few years later, under the tutelage of musical lyricist Oscar Hammerstein, he started studying how to write lyrics for the musical theatre and music, and wrote several college shows at William College in Williamstown, Massachusetts from where he graduated in l950.
After graduation, he moved to California, where he began his career, writing TV scripts in Hollywood for the TV series Topper, but returned to New York to write the incidental (music likely to occur) for the play The girls of Summer (l956) and shortly after that, made his first mark as a lyricist on Broadway by writing the lyrics of Leonard Bernstein's musical West Side Story.
And it is with his Sondheim's lyrics of the song Maria, (the musical's most well known song,) and the beginning of Sondheim's career on Broadway, that professor Sean Hartley, who is also the director of Theater@Kaufman, the musical theater division of the Kaufman Music Center in New York City starts his online lecture to honor of Sondheim's Birthday, at One Day University.
Aside from being informative, Hartley's Online one-hour lecture on Stephen Sondheim's life and music, was highly entertaining because it was presented as a Musical production, in as he was telling his online audience bits and pieces of Sondheim's life and discussing his musicals in chronological order, he (Hartley) sang a song, from each one of them in a pleasant-sounding tone of voice, interpreting the lyrics with feeling and pronouncing their words with perfect vocalization.
As we mentioned before, Director Hartley started his lecture relating to his audience that young Sondheim had started his professional life, by writing the lyrics of Maria in West Side Story and continued to discuss A funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, (l962) a musical at which, and for the first time, Sondheim wrote the music and the lyrics. With Hartley singing the Sondheim's songs and them relating incidents related to the productions of Sondheim's musicals, his listeners learned not only about about his life, but about the evolution of the music on his musicals. His lecture was unique and his audience enjoyed every minute of it.
But we could not expect less from the multi- talented Director Sean Hartley who is also a playwright, a musical composer, a lyricist, and a writer of the musicals Cupid and Psyche which he wrote with composer Jihwan Kim, Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding lyrics. Little Women (Syracuse Stage, Village Theater) Love and Real Estate (which he wrote with composer Sam Davis and Snow for which won the ASCAP Harold Arlen Award for Best New Musical and the lyrics for Prelude to a Kiss, based on Craig Lucas' Play, and music by Daniel Messe. As a writer, Hartley has worked on TV, for the Disney Channel and in works for children,
Following his lecture, Cultural World Bilingual interviewed him by phone from New York City.
C.W.B. What attracted Sean Hartley to Musical theatre?
C.W.B. "I understand that you also study music"
C.W.B. Can you tell us something about the theater that you are directing?
C.W.B. And, to end our lecture, Sean, since your Lecture on SONDHEIM was given by you as a Professor of One Day University, can you tell us something about that Unique institution?