Sondheim is born on March 22, 1930 to Janet Fox ("Foxy")
and Herbert Sondheim in New York City.
1936 Sondheim receives his first piano lessons and attends
his first muscial, White
1940 Sondheim's parents divorce. Herbert Sondheim marries
Alicia Babe. Foxy maintains custody of Stephen and sends him to
New York Military Academy.
1942-1943 Sondheim enters George School in Newtown,
Pennsylvania, and becomes friendly with James Hammerstein,
of Oscar Hammerstein II.
1945 Sondheim writes a musical about campus life called
George! at the age of 15. He presents the work to Oscar
Hammerstein who criticizes the work and requests that Stephen
write four musicals to learn the technique. Stephen Sondheim says
that he learned more about musical theatre in an afternoon with
Hammerstein than most people do in a lifetime.
1946 Sondheim enters Williams
College as liberal arts major.
1947 Sondheim takes acting roles in Antigone and Wilder's
Skin of Our Teeth. He publishes three short stories in
The Purple Cow literary magazine. He composes a piano sonata
and piano suite. In the summer he works as a gofer on the Rogers
and Hammerstein production, Allegro.
1948-1950 Sondheim continues performing and creating Oscar
Hammerstein's four assigned musicals until graduation, at which
point he moves in with his father in New York. In 1950, Sondheim
graduates magna cum laude from Williams College, and he also receives
the Hubbard Hutchinson Prize, a two-year fellowship to study music.
1952 Sondheim collaborates with Mary Rodgers on a musical
for TV, The
Lady or the Tiger? It is never produced. Sondheim writes
a piano concerto for two pianos in three movements, later succeeded
by a violin sonata.
1953 Sondheim writes the score for Saturday
Night. The musical is abandoned in 1955 when its producer
Lemuel Ayers dies. Sondheim collaborates with screenwriter and
playwright, George Oppenheimer for the television series, Topper.
1955 Sondheim is chosen as co-lyricist for Berstein-Laurents-Robbins,
Side Story. He will eventually become the full lyricist.
1956 Sondheim writes incidental music for the play, The
Girls of Summer.
1957 September 16: West
Side Story premieres on Broadway.
opens on Broadway with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and music by
Styne. Styne refers to Sondheim as the first lyric writer
who understood what she was doing with music. Gypsy marked
the last show that Stephen Sondheim would do in the "Rogers
and Hammerstein style."
1961 Sondheim writes incidental music for the play, Invitation
to a March. The fiilm version of West Side Story
Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opens on
Broadwaya collaboration of Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart
with score and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Writes mini-musical,
directed by Mike Nichols in Pennsylvania.
1963 The film version of Gypsy is released. A
Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is awarded a
Tony for the best musical of the year.
Can Whistle opens on April 4. The show abruptly closes
on April 11.
I Hear A Waltz?, music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by
Sondheim, premieres on Broadway. Sondheim completes first draft
of The Girls Upstairs (later to be titled, Follies).
1966 November 16: Evening
Primrose, a play with music for television, premieres.
1970 April 26: Sondheim's Company
premieres. Stephen Sondheim begins working relationship with Harold
1971 April 4: Sondheim's Follies
premieres on Broadway. This premiere marked the second collaboration
with Harold Prince. Sondheim's lyrics and score for Company
earn two Tonys, respectively.
1972 Sondheim's lyrics and music earn him a Tony Award
1973 February 25: Sondheim's A
Little Night Music premieres on Broadway. This premiere
marked the third partnership with Harold Prince, and would later
earn Sondheim his fourth Tony, this one for lyrics and music.
A Musical Tribute opens in the Shubert Theatre. Sondheim
appears on the cover of Newsweek magazine.
1974 March 8: Sondheim writes additional lyrics for a
new production of Bernstein's Candide.
May 20: Sondheim's The Frogs premieres at a Yale Swimming
Pool. Sondheim & Co., a book about Sondheim's collaborations
with other artists and the theatrical process, is published.
1976 January 11: Sondheim's Pacific
Overtures premieres on Broadway. This premiere marked
the fourth partnership with Harold Prince.
by Side by Sondheim premieres on Broadway, an assemblage
of Sondheim songs put together in an evening's revue by the British
quartet of David Kernan, Ned Sherrin, Millicent Martin, and Julia
1979 March 1: Sondheim's Sweeney
Todd premieres on Broadway, which soon earns him yet another
Tony for his lyrics and music.
1981 November 16: Sondheim's Merrily
We Roll Along premieres on Broadway. The show abruptly
closes on December 2. Due to artistic differences, the Harold
Prince and Stephen Sondheim partnership ends.
1984 May 2: Sondheim's Sunday
in the Park with George premieres on Broadway. Sondheim
partners with James Lapine.
1986 Sondheim: A Music Tribute is held in Shubert
Theatre. Sondheim performs on piano while singing Anyone Can
1987 November 5: Sondheim's Into
the Woods premieres on Broadway. Woods marked the
second greatest success for Sondheim and the second collaboration
with James Lapine. Sondheim's book, Sondheim & Co.,
is revised to include Into the Woods.
1988 Into the Woods earns Sondheim a Tony for lyrics
1991 January 27: A workshop production of Sondheim's Assassins
premieres off Broadway.
1992 The film Dick
Tracy is released, featuring songs by Sondheim such as
"Sooner or Later," which wins the Academy Award for
Best Song. Sondheim refuses the National Endowment for the Arts
(NEA) medal, calling the NEA medal a "symbol of censorship."
Sondheim's mother, Foxy dies.
1993 March: Putting
It Together, a revue based on the songs of Stephen Sondheim,
1994 April 23: Sondheim's Tony Award-winning Passion
premieres on Broadway.
1997 Stephen Sondheim works on Wise
Guys, a new musical about the Mizner brothers.
1998 Sondheim's critically acclaimed revival of Follies
opens at the Paper Mill Playhouse. Into the Woods opens
1999 Putting It Together is revived on Broadway.
2000 Merrily We Roll Along is revived in London.
2001-2002 Into the Woods revival opens on Broadway.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Sondheim