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Interviews with Stephen Sondheim

March 21, 2013

An interview with Sondheim where he talks about his early career and creative process. An interesting anecdote is that at 13 Sondheim’s mother connected him with Oscar Hammerstein’s son who was the same age and Sondheim grew up wanting to be like Oscar. One afternoon Oscar distilled 30 years of experience to a teenage Sondheim in 2 and a half hours, and then outlined a course for him where he would write 4 musicals as his studies. His first assignment was to take a good play that he liked and turn it into a musical. The second assignment was to take a play that he liked, but which was flawed, and turn it into a musical. The third assignment is to take a non-dramatic work, like a novel, and turn that into a musical. Finally, the fourth assignment was to make up his own story and make it into a musical.  After these four exercises he would know something about a musical.  Sondheim followed his advice and  at age 22 when he finished them he says he was a professional — “a young and flawed professional, but not an amateur.”

This is a salon with Sondheim.

Another interview with Sondheim talking about his creative process and habits.

Sondheim on Hammerstein’s criticisms of his work.

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