Andrew Lloyd Webber has remembered Stephen Sondheim as a “unique” and “extraordinary” “titan of musical theatre”, after the company, Follies, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd died at the age of 91.
Lord Lloyd-Webber admitted that he was “always in awe” of the US musical theater giant, who also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story, and revealed that the pair had once discussed working together, But it never happened.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “A Little Night Music is a masterpiece. This is one of those pieces that I go back to playing over and over again.
“It’s great, three or four waltzes in time, but after a while you don’t notice that conceit, because the music is so great.
“So many, many people would focus on his songs because they are unique, but for me as a musician, I think his work was really extraordinary.”
He continued: “Sondheim was an absolute genius. And the New York Times this morning rightly called him a titan of musical theatre. And that’s the only word I can think of.”
Discussing their personal relationship, Lord Lloyd-Weber said: “I didn’t know him well. I once had a wonderful lunch with him, I remember, at a Neil Street restaurant in the late 70s. where we actually talked about doing something together—it was going to be about rivalry—that never got anywhere.
“Last time I saw her at the Hall Prince (Sondheim’s longtime collaborator) memorial and we had a chat backstage and I don’t know, I was always in awe of her.”
Several famous faces have expressed grief and said that they are lucky to have worked with Sondheim.
Songwriter Sir Tim Rice described him as a “master musical man”, while director Steven Spielberg said he was “a giant in American culture”.
Others who paid tribute included English singer Elaine Paige, who starred in the 2011 Broadway run of Sondheim’s Follies.
She tweeted: “One of the most important musical theater legends of our generation, #StephenSondheim, has died.
“I was so lucky to have performed at two of his shows @FolliesBroadway and Sweeney Todd, and also have a song co-written by him for my 50th anniversary. RIP dear man.”
Sir Tim said: “RIP Stephen Sondheim, master musical man.
“His words for West Side Story may have guaranteed him dramatic immortality, but there was more.
“He improved the songwriting like a colossus.”
Barbra Streisand, whose The Broadway album featured lyrics by Sondheim, tweeted: “Thank god Sondheim was 91 so she had the time to write such amazing music and great songs! God bless her soul.” Give peace to.”
Every so often someone comes along that radically changes an entire art form. Stephen Sondheim was one of them
Spielberg, who is directing the new film adaptation of West Side Story, said that Sondheim was “one of our nation’s greatest songwriters, a songwriter and composer of real talent, and the creator of some of the most prolific musical plays ever written”.
In a statement reported by ABC News, he said that the pair had recently become friends and that he “knew more about movies than anyone I had ever met”.
He continued: “When we talked, I couldn’t wait to listen, amazed by the originality of his conceptions of art, politics and people – rendered brilliantly by his mischievous wit and dazzling words.
“I will miss her dearly, but she has left a job that has taught us, and will continue to teach, how hard and how necessary it is to love.”
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted: “Stephen Sondheim was real. Yes, he wrote Tony and Maria and Sweeney Todd and Bobby and George and Dot and Fosca and countless more.
“Some might assume that Shakespeare’s works were done by committee but Steve was real and he was here and he used to laugh out loud on the show and we love him.”
Actor Hugh Jackman, star of The Greatest Showman, said: “Every time someone comes along who fundamentally changes an entire art form. Stephen Sondheim was one of them.
“As millions mourn his passing, I also want to express my gratitude for all that he has given me and more.”
Singer and actress Anna Kendrick said: “I was just talking to someone a few nights ago about how fun (and f****** difficult) it is to sing Stephen Sondheim.
“Doing my job has been one of the greatest privileges of my career. a devastating loss. ,
Tony Award winner Idina Menzel said: “Goodbye dear sir. We will spend our lives trying to make you proud.”
Fellow Tony winner Lee Saonga, who performed at the concert to mark Sondheim’s birthday last year, tweeted: “Thank you for your immense contribution to Rest in Peace, Stephen Sondheim, and musical theatre.
“We will always sing your songs. Oh my heart hurts. ,
He added that Sondheim’s talent “will still be here as his famous songs and shows will be showcased forever”.
Comedian David Baddell paid tribute on Twitter with a link to the musical company’s sorry-grateful song: “The thing about Sondheim is that they raised the lyrics to the same level of emotional and psychological complexity as the novel.”
Musical theater star Carrie Hope Fletcher quoted Sondheim’s Into the Woods in her tribute: “Oh, if life were made of moments. Even worse sometimes. But if life were only moments. Then you never Wouldn’t know you had one!
“A genius, a giant, a hero. Farewell, Sondheim.”
Actress Frances Barber described her as “an icon” and said it was “truly the end of an era”.