A New Yorker writer’s illuminating and deeply personal collection of interviews with the late Stephen Sondheim, conducted in the last years of the artist’s life—conversations that reveal the legendary composer-lyricist as he was rarely seen in public.
In February 2022, The New Yorker published an exclusive online issue which featured excerpts from interviews longtime staff writer D. T. Max had conducted with Stephen Sondheim at the end of his life. Max was working on a major New Yorker profile timed to the eventual premiere of a new musical Sondheim was writing. The article generated an astonishing response from readers who praised it as one of—if not the best—interviews with Sondheim ever conducted; that Max had elicited a candor and vulnerability in the celebrated artist little shown before.
Now, Max brings together those unedited conversations in this commemorative collection. This book reveals this cultural icon—a star who disliked the spotlight—at his most relaxed, thoughtful, sardonic, and engaging, as he talks about work, music, movies, family, New York City, aging, the creative process, and much more. Throughout, Max sets the scenes of the interviews, shares his impressions of Sondheim during each session, and explains how their unusual relationship evolved over the course of their “pas de deux.”
This is a beautiful, surprising, and indelible portrait of an artist in his twilight, offering remarkable insight into the mind and heart of a genius whose work has indelibly influenced modern American musical theater and popular culture.