Stephen Schwartz (composer)

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Stephen Schwartz
Stephen Schwartz.jpg
Stephen Schwartz, 2008
Stephen Lawrence Schwartz

(1948-03-06) March 6, 1948 (age 71)
Education Carnegie Mellon University (BFA)
Years active1969–present

Stephen Lawrence Schwartz (born March 6, 1948) is an American musical theatre lyricist and composer. In a career spanning over four decades, Schwartz has written such hit musicals as Godspell (1971), Pippin (1972), and Wicked (2003). He has contributed lyrics for a number of successful films, including Pocahontas (1995), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), The Prince of Egypt (1998; music and lyrics), and Enchanted (2007). Schwartz has won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics, three Grammy Awards, three Academy Awards, and has been nominated for six Tony Awards. He received the 2015 Isabelle Stevenson Award, a special Tony Award, for his commitment to serving artists and fostering new talent. [1]

Musical theatre Stage work that combines songs, music, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance

Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Although musical theatre overlaps with other theatrical forms like opera and dance, it may be distinguished by the equal importance given to the music as compared with the dialogue, movement and other elements. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have generally been called, simply, musicals.

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.

<i>Godspell</i> musical

Godspell is a musical composed by Stephen Schwartz with the book by John-Michael Tebelak. The show opened off-Broadway on May 17, 1971, and has since been produced by multiple touring companies and in many revivals. The 2011 revival played on Broadway from October 13, 2011 through June 24, 2012.


Early life and education

Schwartz was born in New York City, the son of Sheila Lorna (née Siegel), a teacher, and Stanley Leonard Schwartz, who worked in business. [2] He grew up in the Williston Park area of Nassau County, New York, where he graduated from Mineola High School in 1964. [3] He studied piano and composition at the Juilliard School while attending high school. [4] While attending Carnegie Mellon University, Schwartz composed and directed an early version of Pippin (entitled Pippin, Pippin) with the student-run theatre group, Scotch'n'Soda. Schwartz graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1968 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in drama. [5] He is Jewish. [6]

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Williston Park, New York Village in New York, United States

Williston Park is an incorporated village in Nassau County, New York in the United States. The population was 7,287 at the 2010 census.

Nassau County, New York County in the United States

Nassau County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. At the 2010 census, the county's population was 1,339,532, estimated to have increased to 1,358,343 in 2018. The county seat is Mineola and the largest town is the Town of Hempstead.

Early career

Upon returning to New York City, Schwartz went to work as a producer for RCA Records, but shortly thereafter began to work in Broadway theatre. He was asked to be the musical director of the first American rock opera, The Survival of St. Joan . He was credited as the producer of the double album of the soundtrack with the progressive rock group Smoke Rise on Paramount Records. His first major credit was the title song for the play Butterflies Are Free ; the song was eventually used in the movie version as well.

RCA Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America. It is one of Sony Music's four flagship labels, alongside RCA's former long-time rival Columbia Records, Arista Records, and Epic Records. The label has released multiple genres of music, including pop, classical, rock, hip hop, afrobeat, electronic, R&B, blues, jazz, and country. Its name is derived from the initials of its defunct parent company, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). It was fully acquired by Bertelsmann in 1986, making it a part of Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG); however, RCA Records became a part of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, a merger between BMG and Sony Music, in 2004, and was acquired by the latter in 2008, after the dissolution of Sony BMG and the restructuring of Sony Music. It is the second oldest record label in American history, after sister label Columbia Records.

Broadway theatre class of professional theater presented in New York City, New York, USA

Broadway theatre, also known simply as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.

A rock opera is a collection of rock music songs with lyrics that relate to a common story. Rock operas are typically released as concept albums and are not scripted for acting, which distinguishes them from operas, although several have been adapted as rock musicals. The use of various character roles within the song lyrics is a common storytelling device. The success of the rock opera genre has inspired similar works in other musical styles, such as rap opera.

In 1971, he wrote music and lyrics for Godspell , for which he won several awards, including two Grammys. For this musical's Toronto production in 1972, he asked Paul Shaffer to be the musical director, thus starting Shaffer's career. Godspell was followed by the English-language texts, in collaboration with Leonard Bernstein, for Bernstein's Mass , which opened the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. In 1972, the long-running Pippin premiered on Broadway. Schwartz had begun writing songs for Pippin while in college, although none of the songs from the college version ended up in the Broadway production. Both Pippin and Godspell continue to be frequently produced.

Grammy Award Accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States

A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The trophy depicts a gilded gramophone. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.

Toronto Provincial capital city in Ontario, Canada

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada's most populous CMA. The city is the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe, an urban agglomeration of 9,245,438 people surrounding the western end of Lake Ontario. Toronto is an international centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Paul Shaffer Canadian musician

Paul Allen Wood Shaffer, CM is a Canadian singer, composer, actor, author, comedian and multi-instrumentalist who served as David Letterman's musical director, band leader and sidekick on the entire run of both Late Night with David Letterman (1982–1993) and Late Show with David Letterman (1993–2015).

Two years after Pippin debuted, Schwartz wrote music and lyrics of The Magic Show , which ran for just under 2,000 performances. By mid-1974, at age 26, Schwartz had three smash hit musicals playing in New York simultaneously. Next were the music and lyrics of The Baker's Wife , which closed before reaching Broadway after an out-of-town tryout tour in 1976. However, the cast album went on to attain cult status, which led to several subsequent productions, including a London production directed by Trevor Nunn in 1990 and, in 2005, a highly–acclaimed production at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey.

<i>The Magic Show</i> musical

The Magic Show is a one-act musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Bob Randall. It starred magician Doug Henning. Produced by Edgar Lansbury, it opened on May 28, 1974 at the Cort Theatre in Manhattan, and ran for 1,920 performances, closing on December 31, 1978. Henning was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and director Grover Dale was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical.

<i>The Bakers Wife</i> musical

The Baker's Wife is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and the book by Joseph Stein, based on the 1938 French film of the same name by Marcel Pagnol and Jean Giono. The musical premiered in the West End in 1989 for a short run but, while establishing a dedicated cult following, has not been produced on Broadway.

Sir Trevor Robert Nunn is an English theatre director. Nunn has been the Artistic Director for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre, and, currently, the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. He has directed dramas for the stage, like Macbeth, as well as opera and musicals, such as Cats (1981) and Les Misérables (1985).

In 1978, Schwartz's next Broadway project was a musical version of Studs Terkel's Working , which he adapted and directed, winning the Drama Desk Award as best director, and for which he contributed four songs. He also co-directed the television production, which was presented as part of the PBS American Playhouse series. In 1977, Schwartz wrote a children's book called The Perfect Peach. In the 1980s, Schwartz wrote songs for a one-act musical for children, The Trip, which 20 years later was revised, expanded and produced as Captain Louie . He then wrote music for three of the songs of the Off-Broadway revue Personals, and lyrics to Charles Strouse's music for the musical Rags .

Studs Terkel American author, historian and broadcaster

Louis "Studs" Terkel was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. He received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1985 for The Good War and is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans, and for hosting a long-running radio show in Chicago.

<i>Working</i> (musical) musical

Working is a musical with a book by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, music by Schwartz, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers, and James Taylor, and lyrics by Schwartz, Carnelia, Grant, Taylor, and Susan Birkenhead.

Drama Desk Award theater awards

The Drama Desk Awards are presented annually and were first awarded in 1955 to recognize excellence in New York theatre productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. Broadway productions were excluded until the 1968–69 award season. The awards are considered a significant American theater distinction.

Later career

In 1991, Schwartz wrote the music and lyrics for the musical Children of Eden . He then began working in film, collaborating with composer Alan Menken on the scores for the Disney animated features Pocahontas (1995), for which he received two Academy Awards, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). He provided songs for DreamWorks' first animated feature, The Prince of Egypt (1998), winning another Academy Award for the song "When You Believe". He wrote music and lyrics for the original television musical, Geppetto (2000), seen on The Wonderful World of Disney . A stage adaptation of this piece premiered in June 2006 at The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, and was titled Geppetto and Son, and is now known as Disney's My Son Pinocchio: Geppetto's Musical Tale . A version created for young performers, titled Geppetto & Son, Jr. had its world premiere on July 17, 2009, at the Lyric Theatre in Stuart, Florida. It was presented by the StarStruck Performing Arts Center.

In 2003, Schwartz returned to Broadway, as composer and lyricist for Wicked , a musical based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West , which tells the story of the Oz characters from the point of view of the witches. Schwartz won a Grammy Award for his work as composer and lyricist and producer of Wicked's cast recording. On March 23, 2006, the Broadway production of Wicked passed the 1,000 performance mark, making Schwartz one of four composers (the other three being Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jerry Herman, and Richard Rodgers) to have three shows last that long on Broadway (the other two were Pippin and The Magic Show). In 2007, Schwartz joined Jerry Herman as being one of only two composer/lyricists to have three shows run longer than 1,500 performances on Broadway.

After Wicked, Schwartz contributed music and lyrics for a new musical that was commissioned to celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen. The production, titled Mit Eventyr or "My Fairytale", opened at the Gladsaxe Theatre in Copenhagen in the fall of 2005. The American premiere of My Fairytale took place in the summer of 2011 at the PCPA Theatrefest of California and was directed by the composer's son Scott Schwartz.

Schwartz returned to Hollywood in 2007 and wrote lyrics for the hit Disney film Enchanted , again collaborating with Menken. Three songs from the film, "Happy Working Song", "That's How You Know", and "So Close", were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. He has written the theme song for the Playhouse Disney show Johnny and the Sprites , starring John Tartaglia. A recent project is incidental music for his son Scott Schwartz's adaptation of Willa Cather's My Ántonia .

On several occasions prior to 2008, Schwartz had reached out to Tim Dang who was the longtime artistic director of Los Angeles based Asian-Pacific Islander theater company, East West Players (EWP). [7] This collaboration led to the conception of a new version of Pippin, aesthetically inspired by Japanese anime and musically inspired by hip-hop. [8] The production was a record-breaking hit and remained the highest grossing production in EWP's history [9] for an entire decade before being dethroned by Allegience in 2018.

In 2008, Applause Theatre and Cinema Books published the first ever Schwartz biography titled Defying Gravity, by Carol de Giere. The book is a comprehensive look at his career and life, and includes sections on how to write for the musical theatre.

Turning to the pop world in 2009, Schwartz collaborated with John Ondrasik in writing two songs on the Five for Fighting album Slice , the title track as well as "Above the Timberline". Ondrasik became familiar with Schwartz based on his daughter's affection for, and repeated attendance at performances of, the musical Wicked.

In September 2011, the Northlight Theatre in Chicago premiered Schwartz's new musical, Snapshots, which featured music and lyrics by Schwartz, book by David Stern, and was directed by Ken Sawyer. It blended together "some of the best-loved music with some of the genuinely wonderful lesser known gems of (the) renowned Broadway composer." [10]

On March 22, 2012, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus released "Testimony", composed by Schwartz with lyrics taken from submissions to Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project. [11]

In March 2015, Princess Cruises announced a partnership with Schwartz for the development of four shows over three years. The first will be a magic themed review of Schwartz's music, titled Magic To Do, including one new song written for the show. Gabriel Barre will direct, with choreography by Jennifer Paulson-Lee, magic design by James Steinmeyer, scenic design by Jeremy Railton, costume design by Dominique Lemieux, lighting design by Ken Billington, media design by George Johnsen, art direction by Alex Calle, and arrangements by Mark Hartman. The show opens on Crown Princess on October 10, 2015 and on Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess later in 2015.

Personal life

Schwartz married Carole Piasecki on June 6, 1969. They have two children, Jessica and Scott. [2]

In 2009 Schwartz was elected president of the Dramatists Guild of America, succeeding John Weidman; [12] he stepped down in 2014, to be succeeded by Doug Wright. [13]

Major works

Schwartz, 2017 Stephen Schwartz signing autographs.jpg
Schwartz, 2017







Awards and nominations

Schwartz has won many major awards in his field, including three Oscars, three Grammys, four Drama Desk Awards, one Golden Globe Award, the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theater and a self-described "tiny handful of tennis trophies". [17]

He has received six Tony Award nominations, for Wicked, Pippin, and Godspell, music/lyrics; Rags, lyrics; and Working, music/lyrics and book. [18] In 2015, he received an honorary Tony Award, the Isabelle Stevenson Award, for his commitment to serving artists and fostering new talent. [1]

In April 2008, Schwartz was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2009, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. [19] Also in 2009, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. [20] The induction ceremony took place on the night of January 25, 2010. [21]

Schwartz received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University in May 2015. [22]

1971 Tony Award Best Original Score Pippin Nominated
Drama Desk Award Most Promising ComposerWon
Most Promising LyricistWon
1972 Grammy Award Best Score From An Original Cast Show Album Godspell Won
1973 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award Best Musical Pippin Nominated
1974 Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Nominated
1977 Tony Award Best Original Score Godspell Nominated
1978 Tony Award Best Book of a Musical Working Nominated
Best Original Score Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Won
1987 Tony Award Best Original Score Rags Nominated
1990 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical The Baker's Wife Nominated
1996 Academy Awards Best Original Score Pocahontas Won
Best Original Song ("Colors of the Wind")Won
Golden Globe Award Best Original Song Won
Grammy Award Best Song Written for Visual Media Won
1997 Academy Awards Best Original Score The Hunchback of Notre Dame Nominated
ASCAP Film and Television Music AwardsTop Box Office FilmsWon
1999 Academy Awards Best Original Song ("When You Believe") The Prince of Egypt Won
Best Original Score Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Original Song Nominated
Critic's Choice Movie Award Best SongWon
2004 Tony Award Best Original Score Wicked Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Won
Outstanding Music Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Broadway MusicalWon
2005 Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Won
2008 Academy Awards Best Original Song ("Happy Working Song") Enchanted Nominated
Best Original Song ("That's How You Know")Nominated
Best Original Song ("So Close")Nominated
2015 Tony Award Isabelle Stevenson Award N/AWon

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