As both a lyricist and and composer, Sondheim was one of those rare artists whose craft and intellectual rigor were just as profound as his psychological insight and humanity.
Another connection I feel to Sondheim is that, teacher-wise, he would be my “compositional uncle” — both he and my Brandeis dissertation co-advisor David Rakowski studied with the American serialist icon Milton Babbitt. (Fun fact: Babbitt loved musicals and even started writing one.)
So it made me happy to see this tribute article from David Pogue the other day, “Lessons from Stephen Sondheim, the teacher”:
Stephen Sondheim may have been best known as one of the greatest composer/lyricists the theater has ever known. But he often said that he would have loved to have been a teacher — and he was an extraordinarily generous one to generations of young composers.
I was one of them. . . .
Pogue then elaborates on three key lessons he learned from Sondheim:
- Content dictates form
- It’s always worth the time to make your rhymes perfect
- Live the adage, “Be willing to kill your darlings”
You can read the details here.
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