The historic artists' colony in Peterborough, NH, named for musicians Edward and Marian MacDowell, presents the annual honor to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her field. The award is rotated among the seven artistic disciplines nurtured at the colony. Sondheim will receive the honor Aug. 11.
"This is not only a wonderful honor, but a sort of homecoming to me, as I spent much of my piano-playing childhood beginning with 'To a Wild Rose' and working my way up to the Second Piano Sonata," Sondheim said, referencing the compositions of Edward MacDowell.
Sondheim is the first composer-lyricist whose work is dedicated to musical theatre to receive the honor. Leonard Bernstein received the MacDowell Medal in 1987. Additional theatre artists to receive the honor include Edward Albee, Thornton Wilder and Lillian Hellman.
Sondheim, who began his Broadway career as a lyricist for West Side Story and Gypsy, made his debut as a composer/lyricist in 1962 with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Along with collaborators including Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, James Goldman, George Furth, James Lapine, John Weidman and Harold Prince, Sondheim revolutionized the face of musical theatre with Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Pacific Overtures, Anyone Can Whistle, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George, Assassins, Into the Woods, Passion and Road Show.