Finishing The Hat

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To mark his 80th birthday year, musical theatre legend Stephen Sondheim appraises his long career and dissects his own lyrics from West Side Story to Sweeney Todd.

In today's episode, we hear how his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein, influenced the early career of the budding composer and lyricist, and how he came to collaborate with Leonard Bernstein on West Side Story.

In Finishing the Hat - a title borrowed from one of his most autobiographical songs - Sondheim has not only collected his lyrics for the first time, but has provided a forensic account of the lyric-writing process.

As he discusses the lyrics for several of his major musicals from 1954 to 1981- including West Side Story, Gypsy, Company, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd - Sondheim offers an illuminating insight into the lyric-writer's art, as well as a number of warm and witty anecdotes about the remarkable figures with whom he has worked.

He discusses his relationship with his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his collaborations with extraordinary talents such as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Jule Styne, Ethel Merman and Harold Prince.

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 1950s.

AdditionAl Readings by Juliet Stevenson

Produced by Emma Harding.

How Oscar Hammerstein influenced the early career of the young Sondheim.

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To mark his 80th birthday year, musical theatre legend Stephen Sondheim appraises his long career and dissects his own lyrics from West Side Story to Sweeney Todd.

In today's episode, Sondheim recounts his experience of writing the lyrics for Gypsy - and of working with the indomitable Ethel Merman.

In Finishing the Hat - a title borrowed from one of his most autobiographical songs - Sondheim has not only collected his lyrics for the first time, but has provided a forensic account of the lyric-writing process.

As he discusses the lyrics for several of his major musicals from 1954 to 1981-including West Side Story, Gypsy, Company, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd-Sondheim offers an illuminating insight into the lyric-writer's art, as well as a number of warm and witty anecdotes about the remarkable figures with whom he has worked.

He discusses his relationship with his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his collaborations with extraordinary talents such as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Jule Styne, Ethel Merman and Harold Prince.

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 1950s.

AdditionAl Readings by Juliet Stevenson

Produced by Emma Harding.

Sondheim recounts his experience of writing the lyrics for Gypsy.

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To mark his 80th birthday year, musical theatre legend Stephen Sondheim appraises his long career and dissects his own lyrics from West Side Story to Sweeney Todd.

In today's episode, he discusses his first outing on Broadway with his own music - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum - and the critical importance of getting the opening number just right.

In Finishing the Hat - a title borrowed from one of his most autobiographical songs - Sondheim has not only collected his lyrics for the first time, but has provided a forensic account of the lyric-writing process.

As he discusses the lyrics for several of his major musicals from 1954 to 1981-including West Side Story, Gypsy, Company, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd-Sondheim offers an illuminating insight into the lyric-writer's art, as well as a number of warm and witty anecdotes about the remarkable figures with whom he has worked.

He discusses his relationship with his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his collaborations with extraordinary talents such as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Jule Styne, Ethel Merman and Harold Prince.

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 1950s.

AdditionAl Readings by Juliet Stevenson

Produced by Emma Harding.

Sondheim discusses his first outing on Broadway with his own music.

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To mark his 80th birthday year, musical theatre legend Stephen Sondheim appraises his long career and dissects his own lyrics from West Side Story to Sweeney Todd.

In Finishing the Hat - a title borrowed from one of his most autobiographical songs - Sondheim has not only collected his lyrics for the first time, but has provided a forensic account of the lyric-writing process.

As he discusses the lyrics for several of his major musicals from 1954 to 1981-including West Side Story, Gypsy, Company, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd-Sondheim offers an illuminating insight into the lyric-writer's art, as well as a number of warm and witty anecdotes about the remarkable figures with whom he has worked.

He discusses his relationship with his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his collaborations with extraordinary talents such as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Jule Styne, Ethel Merman and Harold Prince.

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 1950s.

Additional readings by Juliet Stevenson

Produced by Emma Harding.

Stephen Sondheim appraises his long career and dissects his own lyric-writing process.

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To mark his 80th birthday year, musical theatre legend Stephen Sondheim appraises his long career and dissects his own lyrics from West Side Story to Sweeney Todd.

In today's episode, he talks about the inspiration behind the music and lyrics of his 'love song to London' - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

In Finishing the Hat - a title borrowed from one of his most autobiographical songs - Sondheim has not only collected his lyrics for the first time, but has provided a forensic account of the lyric-writing process.

As he discusses the lyrics for several of his major musicals from 1954 to 1981-including West Side Story, Gypsy, Company, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd-Sondheim offers an illuminating insight into the lyric-writer's art, as well as a number of warm and witty anecdotes about the remarkable figures with whom he has worked.

He discusses his relationship with his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his collaborations with extraordinary talents such as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Jule Styne, Ethel Merman and Harold Prince.

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 1950s.

Additional readings by Juliet Stevenson

Produced by Emma Harding.

Sondheim talks about Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.