Widely regarded as the most significant force in American musical theater in the second half of the twentieth century, composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim has revolutionized the art form -- "(grabbing) the musical by the scruff and (hauling) it from the dreamy classicism of Rodgers and Hammerstein into the jittery, anomic modernist era -- and beyond," according to Stephen Schiff of the New Yorker. Over the past five decades, Sondheim has explored such unlikely subjects as the corrosion of America's postwar optimism and the intrusion of Western imperialism on nineteenth-century Japan, and has introduced theater audiences to characters "as complex, subversive and nervously modern as anything in the plays of Albee or Pinter or Pirandello," in the words of New York Times culture critic Michiko Kakutani. To honor Sondheim on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday (March 22, 2005), the Paley Center presented a comprehensive series of Sondheim's work in another medium -- television. The retrospective, originally shown at the Paley Center to honor the composer's seventieth birthday (and, for its current incarnation, featuring some newly acquired segments with Yvonne DeCarlo, Eileen Farrell, Marilyn Horne, Carol Burnett, Barbara Cook, and others), illuminates his surprisingly long and remarkably rich relationship with the medium, dating back to 1953, when he landed his first professional writing job, scripting episodes of the supernatural sitcom "Topper." Over the years, Sondheim has returned to television often and in various guises -- as a writer, composer, interview or documentary subject, and even once as an actor. Throughout his career, television has captured Sondheim as his collaborators so often describe him -- as a brilliant, passionate artist intoxicated by the creative process and eager to share his insights into it.

Night Music: Includes D. Jamin-Bartlett singing "The Miller's Son" on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1973); Glynis Johns and Len Cariou performing "Send in the Clowns," from "The Best of Broadway" (1982); and a forty-five-minute episode of "Pebble Mill" devoted to the 1996 Royal National Theatre production of "A Little Night Music," starring Judi Dench; "Sondheim: A Musical Tribute" and a commercial for "A Little Night Music" (1973).


  • DATE: 2010
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:12:41
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: 101071
  • GENRE: Talk/Interviews
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Music, popular (songs, etc.)


    • Stephen Sondheim
    • Len Cariou
    • Judy Dench
    • D. Jamin-Bartlett
    • Glynis Johns