When Stephen Sondheim died on November 26 of last year, the news came as a surprise. Though ninety-one, the composer-lyricist was seemingly in good health, had given a ninety-minute interview to The New York Times five days earlier, and had enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with friends the previous day; earlier in the year he had announced plans for a new musical based on two Luis Buñuel films. (I wrote about his monumental legacy at length in the November 2017 issue of this magazine.)

Social media welled with mourning for the departure of perhaps the greatest single talent in the history of musical theater. Respect for Sondheim has taken root among younger generations, and his work continues to be updated and renewed. Before his death, he had seen and praised Steven Spielberg’s film remake of his and Leonard Bernstein’s...


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