Stephen Sondheim Is Finally Getting the Literary Award He Deserves


Writer, composer, lyricist, and all-around magical goddess Stephen Sondheim is at last being recognized as the literary genius he has always been: With an award!

The 2017 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award (yes, it does sound vaguely sexual!) will be given to Sondheim for his expansive, beautiful, and deeply humanitarian work in lyric and playwriting. He’s the first composer to have done so.

Not only has Sondheim done such an unflaggingly wonderful job of putting humanity’s greatest fears, hopes, weaknesses, and aspirations into song for upwards of 70 years, he’s also crafted some truly earworm-y Broadway hits without sacrificing brilliant, incisive language to melody. From West Side Story to The Frogs to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum to A Little Night Music to Gypsy to Into the Woods to…

Jesus, you get it. The guy’s a gift we don’t deserve.

It’s also important to remember that Sondheim has always been on the side of the skeptic, the cynic, the wise, circumspect pessimist who sees the danger in hope but runs toward it anyway.

He’s also responsible for crafting (if unwittingly) the true anthem of a post-Trump America:

We’ve known all along that Sondheim’s music had healing powers. It was only a matter of time until we started really listening to the words.

About The Author

Henry Giardina is FourTwoNine's Senior Editor

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