At a special ceremony at Carnegie Hall Dec. 15, Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim led a short list of Musical America honorees including David Robertson, Cho-Liang Lin, Dawn Upshaw, the Emerson String Quartet and the landmark venue itself, Carnegie Hall.
Stephen Sondheim was named Musical America's composer (of the year), David Robertson was named conductor, Cho-Liang Lin was named instrumentalist, Dawn Upshaw was named vocalist and the Emerson String Quartet was named ensemble.
As a composer and lyricist Sondheim's works have marked him as one of the most influential voices in musical theatre. Among numerous major awards, Sondheim has won Tonys for Best Score for a Musical for Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Sweeney Todd (1979), Into the Woods (1987), and Passion.
Currently on Broadway is a revival of Putting It Together (1992), an anthology of Sondheim's work. In May 2000, the New York Philharmonic will perform a concert version of Sweeney Todd, featuring Bryn Terfel and Patti LuPone, which is scheduled to be recorded by Deutsche Grammophon.
The international directory of the performing arts honored Carnegie Hall itself by designating it the Concert Hall of the Century. Musical America established its Musician of the Year award program in 1960 to recognize the foremost artists of our time. Past honorees include Leonard Bernstein (1960,1989), Vladimir Horowitz (1965), Yehudi Menuhin (1966), Birgit Nilsson (1968/9), Pierre Boulez (1972), Placido Domingo (1977), Isaac Stern (1986), Mstislav Rostropovich (1987), Marilyn Horne (1995), the Juilliard String Quartet (1996), and Andre Previn (1999).
In 1991, four additional categories -- composer, conductor, instrumentalist, and vocalist -- were installed in the award program. Later, in 1995, another award category, ensemble of the year was added. In 1998, Musical America honored an accompanist of the year for the first time.