Sondheim & Lloyd-Webber: The New Musical
Stephen Citron, signed by author
The New York Times called Stephen Sondheim “the greatest and perhaps best known artist in the American musical theater,” while two months earlier, the same paper referred to his contemporary, Andrew Lloyd-Webber as “the most commercially successful composer in history.” Whatever their individual achievements might be, it is agreed by most critics that these two colossi have dominated world musical theater for the last quarter century and hold the key to the direction the musical stage will take in the future. Here in the third volume of Stephen Citron’s distinguished series ‘The Great Songwriters’–in depth studies that illuminated the musical contributions, careers, and lives of Noel Coward and Cole Porter (‘Noel & Cole: The Sophisticates’), and Oscar Hammerstein 2nd and Alan Jay Lerner, (‘The Wordsmiths’)–this eminent musicologist has taken on our two leading contemporary contributors to the lyric stage. His aim has not been to compare or judge one’s merits over the other, but to make the reader discover through their works and those of their contemporaries, the changes and path of that glorious artform we call Musical Theater. Citron offers unique insight into each artist’s working methods, analyzing their scores–including their early works and works-in-progress. As in Citron’s previously books in this series, great significance is given to the impact their youthful training and private lives have had upon their amazing creative output. Beginning with Sondheim’s lyrics-only works, West Side Story, Gypsy, Do I Hear A Waltz? through his scores for Saturday Night, Company, Anyone Can Whistle, Follies, Pacific Overtures, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park, Into the Woods, Assassins, and Passion, all these milestones of musical theater have been explored. Lloyd-Webber’s musical contribution from his early works, The Likes of Us and Joseph to Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Starlight Express, Aspects of Love, By Jeeves, The Phantom of the Opera, Song & Dance, Mass, Sunset Boulevard to Whistle Down the Wind are also thoroughly analyzed. The works of these two splendid artists are clarified for the casual or professional reader in context with their contemporaries. Complete with a quadruple chronology (Sondheim, Lloyd-Webber, US Theater, British Theater), copious quotations from their works, and many never before published illustrations, the future of the artform that is the crowning achievement of the 20th century is made eminently clear in this book. Sondheim & Lloyd-Webber is a must-read for anyone interested in the contemporary theater.