A key takeaway from all of the recent tributes to Stephen Sondheim, who died on Friday aged 91, is his generosity and eloquence. His generosity in always being open to helping fellow theatre practitioners, and eloquence in his ability to discuss and describe his craft.
These two things come together in a number of Stephen Sondheim interviews that are available, that give a greater sense of the man behind the work, and the work itself.
Check out these interviews with CBS, PBS, The New York Times, and more.
Patti LuPone interviews Stephen Sondheim on CBS Sunday Morning
Currently starring in Company on Broadway, actress Patti LuPone sat down with Stephen Sondheim last year. They discuss their craft, Sondheim’s acting career, and his favourite character. Well worth a watch.
Also worth a watch is CBS’s 2002 report from Martha Teichner, who talks to Sondheim and actors Lynn Redgrave, Christine Baranski and Brian Stokes Mitchell, about the Kennedy Center’s “Sondheim Celebration,” a retrospective of seven of his musicals. Watch the video here.
Conversations with Sondheim: Frank Rich interviews Stephen Sondheim for the New York Times
This 2020 interview in the New York Times with former chief theatre critic of the Times Frank Rich is a masterpiece in journalism and a compelling insight into the genius on Stephen Sondheim.
PBS News Hour interview with Stephen Sondheim
This 2010 interview by Jeffrey Brown for PBS News Hour covers Sondheim talking about the release of his “Finishing the Hat”. Always eloquent, Sondheim talks about the art of writing musicals, and the power of jokes in songs.
The Art of Songwriting with Stephen Sondheim from the Dramatists Guild Foundation
In 2009 Stephen Sondheim sat down with composer-lyricist Adam Guettel to talk musicals as part of the Dramatists Guild Foundation’s “Legacy Project”.
Together they broke down the art of songwriting, and in the act provide a fascinating insight into the life of Sondheim and his creative process.
2008 video interview with Sondheim and the New York Times
The New York Times recently released this never-before-seen interview with Stephen Sondheim, from a June 2008 chat about this life and career.
“One of the first things you have to decide on with a musical is, why should there be songs?”
American Academy of Achievement, class of 2005 interview with Stephen Sondheim
Non-profit organisation theAmerican Academy of Achievement conducted an interview with Stephen Sondheim in 2005 as part of their Class of 2005 (Bill Clinton and George Lucas were some of the other speakers!). It’s over an hour long and is a fascinating insight into the man’s work and life.
HBO’s Six by Sondheim documentary
In 2013 HBO broadcast this award-winning documentary from James Lapine, collaborator with Sondheim on Sunday in the Park with George, Passion and Into the Woods. Lapine takes six classic Sondheim songs as a jumping off point for exploring Sondheim’s craft and life. It proves a fascinating exercise, and a range of interviews are placed between the songs.
The Stephen Sondheim birthday celebrations
These obviously aren’t interviews with Sondheim (sorry!) but the every-decade birthday celebrations for Sondheim prove an invaluable way to hear some of his best songs, and see some of his most accomplished and loyal performers give their versions of his classics.
Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration
Streamed live on 27 April 2020, this tribute for his 90th birthday was sadly not live and in person like many of the previous tributes to this great man, but none-the-less brings together a wide array of performers and creatives to celebrate the work of Stephen Sondheim.
Stephen Sondheim 80th birthday celebration at BBC Promos 2010
Sondheim’s 80th birthday led to two major concerts: one at Avery Fisher Hall in New York in March 2010 which included Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Elaine Stritch and Michael Cerveris. And this concert staged as part of the BBC Promos, which featured an array of performers including Simon Russell Beale, Daniel Evans and Julian Ovenden singing “Everybody Ought to have a Maid”.