Stephen Sondheim leaning over the back of a chair, smirking at the camera

Stephen Sondheim Timeline: An Overview of the Musical Legend

Ahead of the Broadway National tour of Company, it might be helpful to refresh your memory on the musical legend, Stephen Sondheim. The timeline below covers major events, from Sondheim’s Broadway debut, to the publication of his popular memoirs late in life. For even more information on Sondheim and his legacy, visit The Stephen Sondheim Society website.

Stephen Sondheim was born on March 22, 1930. He showed an early aptitude for music.

A black and white photo of Sondheim smoking a cigarette

Stephen Sondheim in the 70’s

He graduated from Williams College in 1952 with a degree in Musical Theatre. He received the Hutchinson Prize, a fellowship for Composition.

Sondheim worked as the lyricist for West Side Story, alongside composer Leonard Bernstein. The musical opened in 1957 and was Sondheim’s Broadway debut.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opened in 1962, with music and lyrics by Sondheim. This was his first Tony Award winning Best Musical.

Sondheim had many successes throughout the 1970’s, including Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979) – for all of which he won Tony Awards for Best Score.

In 1984, Sondheim collaborated with playwright-director James Lapine for Sunday in the Park with George – recognized now as one of Sondheim’s masterpieces. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for several awards.

Stephen Sondheim leaning over the back of a chair, smirking at the camera

Stephen Sondheim in the 1990s

Sondheim and Lapine continued collaborating through the 1980’s and 90’s, creating Into the Woods (1987) and Passion (1994), both of which won Tony Awards for Best Score.

In 2008, Sondheim was honored with a special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in theatre.

Sondheim published his autobiography in two parts in 2010 and 2011, titled Finishing the Hat and Look, I Made a Hat.

Sondheim died at the age of 91 on November 26, 2021. On December 8, 2021, Broadway theaters dimmed their marquee lights for one minute as a tribute to the legend.