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Classical 101

Composer Breaks Through in Hollywood - at 85

When you talk about Hollywood blockbuster soundtracks, a few key names come to mind...John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, James Horner, Danny Elfman, Howard Shore, and Alan Silvestri are names which regularly pop up in the credits.  You could go back a generation or two and continue to compile an impressive list. There is one name to add to the list, though quite unplanned and unexpected...Stephen Sondheim. Huh? Yes.  Sondheim's music for Into the Woods, which quietly raked in $31 million dollars in just the first weekend after Christmas, cost only $50 million to make.  This has Disney doing the happy dance while, most likely, planning to find a way to book a seat on the Sondheim gravy train. In an article for Sinfini Music, Norman Lebrecht characterized Sondheim's music this way...

Stephen Sondheim, remember, is the composer of one of the fastest-closing musicals on Broadway (Anyone Can Whistle, 1964: nine nights). He is a 'precisionist' who would rather junk a show than permit a clichéd harmony, an aesthete who once told me he could never respect a famous colleague after he rhymed ‘together’ with ‘forever’.

Mr. Sondheim has no interest in happy endings...just perfect ones.  His idea of perfect, however, leaves audiences somewhat off-balance when they leave the theatre.  To put it in Central Ohio terms, he's the one wearing a tuxedo at the tailgate party. Studio executives at Disney are simultaneously giddy and confused.  Norman Lebrecht tries to put all of this in perspective. Read Stephen Sondheim Disney Version of Into the Woods Musical a Hit in Hollywood