Stephen Sondheim has won seven Tonys, an Academy Award, seven Grammys, a Pulitzer Prize and the Kennedy Center Honors. His career. Written By Stephen Sondheim. Cover By. Finishing the Hat (From “Sunday in the Park with George”) by Josh Groban · Finishing the Hat by Kelli O’Hara. “A printed collection [of lyrics],” says Stephen Sondheim at the beginning of Finishing the Hat, “is a dubious proposition.” Indeed: like making a.

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The subtitle describes it pretty well: Personally, I find the obsession fascinating in its variation, and no less effective a metaphor for all its repetition from show to show.

Not only does this book contain lyrics of top Broadway shows and descriptions of how they were written, it also includes information about behind the scenes strategy and politics sondhekm the average person isn’t aware of that led to certain good songs b I heard an interview with Stephen Sondheim on the radio and was so fascinated by it that I had to order this book.

Sir, it’s too good, at least! What does it mean, to make art?

I was scared, closeted, and sill primarily addicted to plays. The book starts off bracingly, with a statement of eondheim three principles of lyric writing Content Dictates Form, Less is More and God is in the Details and a brisk outline of the ground rules, in the sixth of which we learn that “Oscar Hammerstein II is not my idol”. Retrieved from ” https: This is reflection on his experience in the creation of 13 musicals, with the benefit of time to explore his intentions at the time, and their resulting success or failure.

Collected Lyrics with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Wafflings, Diversions and Anecdotes covers the remainder of his theatrical works, as well as the various writing he has done for films, plays and further deleted finihing.

Sondheim is finisbing snippy and gossipy once, and he eschews criticizing living lyricists. In that case, the fogginess of the near-rhyme was partly mitigated by the two words coming together in the title, so that it seemed part of the fabric of rinishing lyric. At one point in the second act, Sondheim’s “Live Alone and Like It” which while cut from Dick Tracysounds much of a piece with the songs of Saturday Night is sandwiched so neatly between companion songs from A Little Night Music and Companyit’s clear it could have stepphen inserted as unobtrusively in any of those three other works.


In this case, it was a favor to do a show with composer Richard Rodgers, and he thought he could make a boatload of money. It’s is an essential text.

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim – review

For the song, see Sunday in the Park with George. The poor people around m ” He also gives uncensored opinions on other lyricists’ work, which are saved from seeming brutal by their fhe sincerity, and by the fact that he is j I’m fascinated by people who love their work and take it seriously, so even if I wasn’t a musicals fan I probably would’ve enjoyed this book. Penetrating and self-deprecating, thoughtful and witty, Finishing the Hat is not only an informative look at the art and craft of lyric writing, it is also a window on musical theatre history since the s.

In every instance, one is forced to agree — if, that is, you believe, as he does, that logic is the sine qua non of a lyric, and that tortured syntax, strained rhymes, “poetic” writing, are simply poor craftsmanship. Actually, I was expecting to find it redundant, if not sondhfim, inasmuch as I have long owned and adored copies of his scores and libretti, and nat recordings of every Sondheim show save the unloveable mess stelhen is Road Showabout which you can read my review elsewhere on Goodreads.

Hammerstein also claimed that the opening number is the most important song in a musical because it establishes tone, stephenn, information and everything in between. I’m hard pressed to imagine a curmudgeon I’d rather read. Sondheim provides an account of how and why each musical came to be, problems he encountered, problems he caused, analyses of fibishing composers and lyricists, commentary on theatrical trends, and much more, all of which resulted in my improved understanding of music, musicals, and Mr.

The book’s second volume, Look, I Made a Hat: Think of it as thrift, As a gift, If you get my drift!

Nor am I alone in this. And we have some shepherd’s pie peppered With actual shepherd on top! Try the friar, Fried, it’s drier!

Thanks to the happy chance of being the best friend of the son of one of the giants xtephen American musical theatre, Oscar Hammerstein II, who all but adopted him, Snodheim was superbly well placed to learn not only his basic craft but the lofty principles of the musical play from the horse’s mouth.


No trivia or quizzes yet. Poems are written to be read, silently or aloud, not sung The severity of his judgments is underpinned by his personal philosophy: No doubt there are AI’s out there that produce good facsimiles of poetry and song I’ve heard some great MIDI fractal generators, which, fed enough pieces to analyze, can occasionally mimic music composition fairly welland no doubt either that eventually, a Kurzweill will produce a program that devises one or more pieces which an educated musicologist cannot distinguish as automated in origin though I would nonetheless credit the programmer for the output.

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Thd it Together is the more remarkable as a Sondheim meta-musical, in that it could credibly serve as a musical version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. We hope to have this fixed soon. And I’m sure they can’t compare as far as taste!

Finishing the Hat – Wikipedia

If it’s for a price. But while most everyone knows the lyrics to his large number of hits, few of us know the secrets or gossip or the lyricists real feelings about each of his ventures – until now. To ask other readers questions about Finishing the Hatplease sign up.

With the lyrics to all his shows between – as well as many additional tidbits, this is a fascinating insight into the most talented man in musical theatre. One of America’s best writers, writing about his craft? While I don’t dare dispute that good works can be found to adhere to articulatable principles and that craft can be found in the consistent application of those principles, I guess I would take issue with Sondheim’s view that there is an invariable, RIGHT way to compose lyrics, music, or what-have-you.

I will only add my own thoughts — which are wordy, because I love the man. If you like reading things that make you go, “Wow, that is one smart guy. And he points out problems you probably never even noticed and will now not be able to unsee! I would recommend this book to anyone interested in musical theater or the art of language in general.