Stephen Sondheim – the composer and lyricist behind some of the world’s best-known musicals – has died aged 91, according to The New York Times.
Just some of his best-known works from a 60-year career include the lyrics for West Side Story and Sweeney Todd.
The newspaper reports that Sondheim’s death at his home in Connecticut was sudden – and hours earlier, he had celebrated Thanksgiving with his family.
Awarding him with the presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, Barack Obama said Sondheim “reinvented the American musical”.
The then president added: “His greatest hits aren’t tunes you can hum; they’re reflections on roads we didn’t take, and wishes gone wrong, relationships so frayed and fractured there’s nothing left to do but send in the clowns.”
In December 2019, a theatre on London’s West End was named after Sondheim in honour of his 90th birthday – and it is currently home to Les Misérables.
During an interview with NPR in 2013, Sondheim said: “I love the theatre as much as music, and the whole idea of getting across to an audience and making them laugh, making them cry – just making them feel – is paramount to me.”
Several of Sondheim’s hit musicals were later turned into movies, including 2014’s Into The Woods starring Meryl Steep, and 2007’s Sweeney Todd featuring Johnny Depp.