Stephen Sondheim: Master of the Musical

Intellectuality to a Craft Based on Schmaltz and Charm, Yet Every One of His 14 Shows Is Shot Through with Emotion

When Stephen Sondheim was a freshman pursuing mathematics at Williams College, he enrolled in a music course. Most of the class, he recalls, loathed it. "The professor, Robert Barrow, was cold and dogmatic. I thought he was the best thing I had ever encountered, because he took all the romance away from art. Instead of the muse coming at midnight and humming Some Enchanted Evening into your ear, music was constructed. It wasn't what other people wanted to hear, but it turned me into a music major."

Art without romance. An odd-sounding phrase, perhaps, from the man who wrote the gushy...

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