Finishing the Hat--the Lyrics and Kvetches of Stephen Sondheim

The Broadway composer looks back at the first decades of his career

And for all the bumps that his career has endured from box offices and critics, it seems clear from this year's celebrations that no one has stopped Sondheim. The songs on the PBS broadcast, lushly played by the Philharmonic under the baton of his devoted Paul Gemignani, are nearly all familiar, parts of the lingua franca of today's theater. Some of the performances seem a little familiar, too, mechanically touching the usual bases. But the best items, including a next-to-closing epic involving seven divas, reaffirmed that Sondheim, the guy who wrote the songs, lives on, excitingly. The kvetch who wrote the notes? Who remembers him?

Does he hear a waltz? Sondheim in 1981.
Solters/Roskin/Friedman, Inc.
Does he hear a waltz? Sondheim in 1981.

Details

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954–1981)
By Stephen Sondheim
Alfred A. Knopf, 448 pp., $39.95

Sondheim! The Birthday Concert
PBS Great Performances
Image Entertainment
$24.98 (DVD), $29.98 (Blu-ray)

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