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Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes [Hardcover]

Stephen Sondheim
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 26 2010
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.

Frequently Bought Together

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes + Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes and Miscellany
Price For Both: CDN$ 62.70


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Review

"Finishing the Hat is a show stopper! If you love Stephen Sondheim, hate him, or never even heard of him, you'll still have a great ride—so take it! This book is filled with humor, controversy, stories about talented and glamorous people and, above all, life. And his lyrics! Everything you've ever wanted to know—about anything—is in those lyrics." —Phyllis Newman
 
 “There is so much to be learned and appreciated from Finishing the Hat. It's filled with fascinating, entertaining, unique and compelling lessons from a man who encompasses the essence of what is truly great about American Musical Theatre.” —Michael Feinstein
 
“Just as Stephen Sondheim is, without dispute, THE master lyricist for the theater of our generation (not to mention his superb music!), he now has written THE book on the art and craft of lyric writing. It is a book that will enrich and entertain anyone with an interest in music and theater, either as a life’s work or a life’s pleasure. It is like no other writing on the subject. It is Sondheim.” —Alan & Marilyn Bergman
 
“Seeing my first Sondheim musical, Follies, I was like the farm girl brought to the Homes of Tomorrow exhibit; breathless, nose pressed to the glass. This book takes the glass away. It’s a thrill to experience these shows again with Steve as your guide. What a gift to the theatre this book is! For actors, it's a must. For lyricists, it a primer.” —Joanna Gleason
 
“The book is a masterpiece. There never has been and never will be one like it. It is about the grain of sand that produces the pearl and is indeed as honest and simple as that pearl. If you pay attention to this book you could learn how to write a song, though not a great song. That is forever mysterious as genius will always be. The main lesson is that this particular genius is dead practical. All the hocus pocus attached to art has no meaning in the mind of Sondheim. You must read it to see what does matter to him and you will marvel and read it again. And then again.” —Mike Nichols
 
“Stephen Sondheim’s book can be read for pleasure, information, wisdom, humor or inspiration; all of the pleasures I received. Or because it tells a few secrets about how genius works.” —Stanley Donen

About the Author

Stephen Sondheim has written award-winning music and lyrics for theater, film and television. He is also the coauthor of the film The Last of Sheila and the play Getting Away with Murder. Sondheim is on the council of the Dramatists Guild of America, having served as its president from 1973 to 1981. He lives in New York City.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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5.0 out of 5 stars sondheim commenting on sondheim June 3 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Who better to do so? with a lot of extra notes on other composers lyricists writers with explanations of why he thinks so. A real gem in the field of critical analysis of theatre. PLUS some fun gossip!
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5.0 out of 5 stars For all Sondheim Fans Everywhere! Jan. 30 2012
By Maxisback TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a superb book with pictures of the original casts, posters and Mr. Sondheim. He is candid in his writing, and his lyrics are made more wonderful by the music that either he or others wrote. If you love Sondheim, then this book is definitely for you!
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5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars ! Sept. 8 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great deal fast shiping ! I recommand this seller. Thank you.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About as close to genius as one can get. Jan. 1 2011
By One singular sensation... TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"Finishing the Hat" is a perfect read, except for the title which is from a show not covered in this volume. But it does sum up a great deal of what a brilliant mind like Sondheim's goes through to produce the musical miracles that he does. I loved every moment.The lyrics alone are worth any price, but the insights are so stupendously insightful that they leave one almost breathless as one reads and rereads just to catch a precious glimmer of the struggles and successes that are Sondheim at his best...which he almost always is. That is my one complaint about the book; he is too critical of himself. There are songs that he seems to find little in to praise, but I could listen to them forever. Cynical - "I'm Still Here", "The Ladies Who Lunch" or sentimental - "Send in the Clowns", "So Many People" - this is like discovering Aladdin's treasure; sometimes rediscovering them with so much to cherish. Some of his songs slip into the shadows, but are here lovingly gathered up and brought back into one's mind and heart - "The Road You Didn't Take", "Another Hundred People". I think I'd happily give up a year of my life to spend one hour talking to this unique master of the music of the theatre, and explorer into the very souls of us all.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, entertaining Dec 29 2010
By Sheldon
Format:Hardcover
Reading Mr. Sondheim's insightful and informative prose is very entertaining. I enjoyed the "inside" scoop on his collaborators, peers and other Broadway types. His meticulous attention to detail as he converts character into lyric is fascinating. I wish he had spent more time describing some of his music compositional techniques and how these, wedded with the lyrics, produced the great works he writes about.
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