Two great musical composers have birthdays today, so let me start with the one I don’t like: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Now notice: I do think he is a great composer. I just don’t especially like him. He’s not big of melody. I mean, he can do it. But he usually limits such exercises to two songs per show. Also, I don’t especially like him as a lyricist. For that, we have to wait for the second great musical composer today.
The very great Stephen Sondheim is 84 today. He writes a lot of catchy melodies. Call me old fashioned, but I like a tune I don’t have to hear a half dozen times to remember. But even more than that, Sondheim is one of the greatest lyricists ever. That was very clear in 1957 with West Side Story. I also happen to think that the music by Leonard Bernstein is perhaps the best of any musical I’ve ever heard. And then he followed that up with Gypsy, where the great Jule Styne wrote the music.
From then on, it was all “music and lyrics” by Stephen Sondheim. He did A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Sweeney Todd, and much more. This presents a problem in providing a song. I decided to go with “Everybody’s Got the Right” from Assassins. I just love how Sondheim manages to write upbeat songs about such dark subjects.
Happy birthday Stephen Sondheim!
I do feel bad that I didn’t mention that William Shatner is 83 today. I think he is a totally awesome guy. Next year for sure!