There is no way to do justice to Stephen Sondheim and his impact on the American Musical Theatre. Like his mentor Oscar Hammerstein, Sondheim changed the musical as we know it, building on what he learned from Hammerstein and taking it to new heights. His work and encouragement opened the door for other composers and lyricists to explore subjects that were not traditionally Broadway musical material, and oftentimes in new ways and new styles of music.
Sondheim refused to sit on his laurels, he was, as the Times called him, “An intellectually rigorous artist who perpetually sought new creative paths.” Hirschfeld captured almost all of Sondheim’s Broadway shows, and few of the films the composer contributed songs or scripts for. Sondheim was also a Hirschfeld collector, acquiring show drawings either directly from the artist or through his friends and collaborators like Hal Prince. In his last interview just five days before his death, the times included a photo of Sondheim with an image of Hirschfeld’s Putting it Together in the background. While the two men were quite different, Hirschfeld would have probably agreed with Sondheim’s quote that “Content Dictates Form; Less is More; God Is in the Details — all in the service of Clarity, without which nothing else matters.”
Hirschfeld drew his first Sondheim show in 1957 when Sondheim wrote the lyrics to West Side Story. Hirschfeld had been drawing the American Theatre for more than thirty years at that point. Yet he would go on and record the next half century of Sondheim on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in films. To honor this legend of the American Musical theatre we present this collection of more than 50 images of Hirschfeld drawings of Sondheim and from Sondheim shows.