Entertainment & Arts

Stephen Sondheim honoured with Edward MacDowell medal

Stephen Sondheim
Image caption Stephen Sondheim has won more than 60 Tony Awards

Stephen Sondheim has been awarded the prestigious Edward MacDowell medal in the US.

The multi-award winning composer and lyricist said he felt both "flattered and gratified".

He added the award felt like a "sort of homecoming" because he spent much of his childhood playing pieces by the composer Edward MacDowell, after whom the award is named.

Previous recipients include poet Robert Frost and painter Georgia O'Keefe.

It is the first time the medal has been awarded for musical theatre.

Sondheim has won more Tony Awards than any other composer, with his hit musicals including Follies, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd.

He also won a best original song Oscar in 1991 for Sooner or Later from Dick Tracy and the Pulitzer Prize for drama for Sunday In The Park With George in 1984.

Critic Frank Rich, chairman of the medal selection committee, said "no artist could be more deserving of this accolade".

"No artist has made a larger contribution to this quintessential American art form in the modern era than Sondheim has," he said.

Sondheim was awarded the medal at the MacDowell artist retreat colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. The former home of the American romantic composer Edward MacDowell was the first artists retreat in the US.

Other MacDowell fellows include Thornton Wilder, Alice Walker and Leonard Bernstein, while Alice Sebold wrote The Lovely Bones, and Jonathan Franzen completed The Corrections at the retreat.

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