Cover image for Sondheim on music : minor details and major decisions
Sondheim on music : minor details and major decisions
Horowitz, Mark Eden.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press in association with Library of Congress, 2003.
Physical Description:
x, 401 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
The interviews. Introduction ; Passion ; Assassins ; Into the woods ; Sunday in the park with George ; Interlude ; Sweeney Todd ; Pacific overtures ; Finale -- Songs I wish I'd written (at least in part) -- Songlisting, discography, and publishing information.
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ML410.S6872 H67 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This is primarily a transcript of a series of interviews with Stephen Sondheim, focusing on his work as a composer. During the interviews, he and the author look through Sondheim's manuscripts and sketches and discuss the creative process. The discussions focus on six shows: Passion, Assassins, Into the Wood, Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd and Pacific Overtures but every Sondheim score comes up in conversation. Among the topics discussed are how Sondheim approaches characters and dramatic moments, how motif s and thematic material are created and used, how harmony, melody and rhythm reflect character, the structuring of a score, the use of pastiche and the practical aspects of collaboration. Wish I'd Written, his reasons behind some of those choices and the messages he received from composers and lyricists whose songs were included on the list. An extensive song listing and a discography follow which attempt to list every commercial recording of a Sondheim song and provide publishing information with vocal ranges.

Author Notes

Mark Eden Horowitz is a senior music specialist at the Library of Congress where he has worked as an archivist. He has written articles and reviews for Kurt Weill Quarterly and The Sondheim Review. He has also taught "The American Musical on Stage and Screen" at Georgetown University, and presented two lecture series for the Smithsonian: "Resident Associates Masters of the Musical" and "Six by Sondheim," the latter in conjunction with the Library of Congress

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

The first edition of this book, published in 2003, focuses on a set of interviews Horowitz conducted with Stephen Sondheim, the legendary composer and lyricist. It also includes a few of Sondheim's original sketches. This second edition expands on the original with transcripts from two subsequent interviews, as well as an updated song listing and discography. In the newer chapters, Sondheim talks about the evolution of his show Bounce (originally entitled Road Show), how different strings of harmony distinguish composers, and his thoughts on the film adaptation of Sweeney Todd. Sondheim enthusiasts will appreciate the lengthier discussion of Merrily We Roll Along, a musical that was barely touched upon in the first edition. Verdict The extensive musical jargon might prove difficult for some readers. Much of the content in the fist edition is incorporated here, and libraries with that volume will appreciate the expanded discography and song listing but little else. Recommended for libraries with a prominent emphasis on music.-Karen McCoy, Fort Lewis Coll. Lib., Durango, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Much has been written about Sondheim--just one example: the superb Meryle Secrest biography Stephen Sondheim: A Life (CH, Mar'99). Now here is a book by him--or almost. Nearly one half of the book comprises edited transcripts of three days of interviews conducted by Horowitz (senior music specialist, Library of Congress) in 1997. In these interviews, Sondheim talked about his creative process in composing six of his more recent works, from Pacific Overtures through Passion. Much of this emphasizes the music: musical examples abound and the nonmusician may become lost. Not to fear: one finds so much more in Sondheim's other remarks, which cover all his works and include wonderful production anecdotes and insights. In the second part of the book, Sondheim provides a list of songs he wishes he had written. Originally compiled for a 2000 concert in his honor, the list is followed by short notes of appreciation from many of the included composers and lyricists. The volume concludes with an exhaustive listing of the songs Sondheim did write. Organization and presentation, however, are such that the listing and discography are appropriate for leisurely study, not quick consultation. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Comprehensive music and performing arts collections serving graduate students, researchers, faculty, and professionals. R. D. Johnson emeritus, SUNY College at Oneonta

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. v
Introductionp. vii
Part I The Interviewsp. 1
1 Passionp. 3
2 Assassinsp. 57
3 Into the Woodsp. 81
4 Sunday in the Park with Georgep. 91
5 Interludep. 119
6 Sweeney Toddp. 125
7 Pacific Overturesp. 155
8 Finalep. 165
Part II Songs I Wish I'd Written (At Least in Part)p. 169
Part III Songlisting, Discography, and Publishing Informationp. 179
Explanatory Notesp. 181
Songlisting, Discography, and Publishing Informationp. 187
Music Acknowledgmentsp. 389
Indexp. 391
About the Authorp. 401