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Finishing the Hat

Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes

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Hardcover published by Knopf (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
Stephen Sondheim has won seven Tonys, an Academy Award, seven Grammys, a Pulitzer Prize and the Kennedy Center Honors. His career has spanned more than half a century, his lyrics have become synonymous with musical theater and popular culture, and in Finishing the Hat—titled after perhaps his most autobiographical song, from Sunday in the Park with George—Sondheim has not only collected his lyrics for the first time, he is giving readers a rare personal look into his life as well as his remarkable productions.

Along with the lyrics for all of his musicals from 1954 to 1981—including West Side Story, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd—Sondheim treats us to never-before-published songs from each show, songs that were cut or discarded before seeing the light of day. He discusses his relationship with his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his collaborations with extraordinary talents such as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Ethel Merman, Richard Rodgers, Angela Lansbury, Harold Prince and a panoply of others. The anecdotes—filled with history, pointed observations and intimate details—transport us back to a time when theater was a major pillar of American culture. Best of all, Sondheim appraises his work and dissects his lyrics, as well as those of others, offering unparalleled insights into songwriting that will be studied by fans and aspiring songwriters for years to come.

Accompanying Sondheim’s sparkling writing are behind-the-scenes photographs from each production, along with handwritten music and lyrics from the songwriter’s personal collection.

Penetrating and surprising, poignant, funny and sometimes provocative, Finishing the Hat is not only an informative look at the art and craft of lyric writing, it is a history of the theater that belongs on the same literary shelf as Moss Hart’s Act One and Arthur Miller’s Timebends. It is also a book that will leave you humming the final bars of Merrily We Roll Along, while eagerly anticipating the next volume, which begins with the opening lines of Sunday in the Park with George.
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Stephen Sondheim has won seven Tonys, an Academy Award, seven Grammys, a Pulitzer Prize and the Kennedy Center Honors. His career has spanned more than half a century, his lyrics have become synonymous with musical theater and popular culture, and in Finishing the Hat—titled after perhaps his most autobiographical song, from Sunday in the Park with George—Sondheim has not only collected his lyrics for the first time, he is giving readers a rare personal look into his life as well as his remarkable productions.

Along with the lyrics for all of his musicals from 1954 to 1981—including West Side Story, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd—Sondheim treats us to never-before-published songs from each show, songs that were cut or discarded before seeing the light of day. He discusses his relationship with his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his collaborations with extraordinary talents such as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Ethel Merman, Richard Rodgers, Angela Lansbury, Harold Prince and a panoply of others. The anecdotes—filled with history, pointed observations and intimate details—transport us back to a time when theater was a major pillar of American culture. Best of all, Sondheim appraises his work and dissects his lyrics, as well as those of others, offering unparalleled insights into songwriting that will be studied by fans and aspiring songwriters for years to come.

Accompanying Sondheim’s sparkling writing are behind-the-scenes photographs from each production, along with handwritten music and lyrics from the songwriter’s personal collection.

Penetrating and surprising, poignant, funny and sometimes provocative, Finishing the Hat is not only an informative look at the art and craft of lyric writing, it is a history of the theater that belongs on the same literary shelf as Moss Hart’s Act One and Arthur Miller’s Timebends. It is also a book that will leave you humming the final bars of Merrily We Roll Along, while eagerly anticipating the next volume, which begins with the opening lines of Sunday in the Park with George.
Product Details
Hardcover (480 pages)
Published: October 26, 2010
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Knopf
ISBN: 9780679439073
Other books byStephen Sondheim
  • Into the Woods

    Into the Woods
    "That joyous rarity, a work of sophisticated artistic ambition and deep political purpose that affords nonstop pleasure."--William A. Henry III, Time

    A Little Night Music

    A Little Night Music
    Vocal Selections
    This completely new edition, created with Sondheim's approval, contains 13 newly edited and engraved songs based on the composer's piano/vocal manuscript sources. Includes: Now * Later * Soon * Remember? * You Must Meet My Wife * Liaisons * In Praise of Women * Every Day a Little Death * Night Waltz * It Would Have Been Wonderful * Send in the Clowns * The Miller's Son * The Glamorous Life.

    Follies

    Follies
    New Edition
    "A landmark musical. . . . A work of art."—The New York Times On the eve of a once-glorious theater's destruction, all of life's might-have-beens take center stage as two jaded couples glamorize the old days in what proves to be a shattering experience. This classic musical by visionaries Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman returned to Broadway in fall 2011 starring Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell, and Elaine Paige. Stephen Sondheim is the lyricist for West Side Story and Gypsy and the composer/lyricist for Sunday in the Park with George, Company, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and many others. James Goldman was a playwright, novelist, lyricist, and screenwriter. His plays include The Lion in Winter; They Might Be Giants; Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole; and the musical A Family Affair.

    Sunday in the Park with George

    Sunday in the Park with George
    Vocal score to Sondheim's musical featuring the art of Georges Saurat. Songs include: Beautiful * Children and Art * Color and Light * The Day Off * Everybody Loves Louis * Finishing the Hat * It's Hot up Here * Move On * No Life * Putting It Together * Sunday * We Do Not Belong Together * and more.

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