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Andrew Lloyd Webber or Stephen Sondheim

Music moves and excites people, in great numbers. Music defines culture, sensibility and the innate nature. It is directly expressive of our personalities and emotions. This was true of the great music legends and their works. Whether Andrew Lloyd Webber or Stephen Sondheim, music flowed in rhythm through their unique sensitivities upholding every virtue of human consciousness. Modern western listeners have had the unique experience of hearing music refracted through the prism of a hundred different cultures as a brood of musical changelings, for example, in the form of African or Asian cross-cultural pop. And of course listeners in contemporary America or Europe have had the opportunity to hear live performances and recordings by some of the greatest singers in the classical, folk and popular styles of the world. (Potter, 2000) But the legacy left behind by the Lloyd Weber and Sondheim was unparalleled. The performance practice of the twentieth century's singing entertainers is a vital component of the mass culture of its period, and it could be understood that Sondheim had its influences. Very much inventive and new, Stephen Sondheim remains one of the most captivating of Broadway composers.  His solo Broadway work is by misfortune not aware to the common people who enjoy music just like his early associations like the 'West Side Story'.   The very first reason could be the demise of the movie musical, which helped the public to acknowledge and appreciate the musicals and cultivate a familiarity with them.  And if we enquire further, it could be seen that the greater sophistication of his songs, have added to the reason behind the unfamiliarity. Of course, Sondheim does not write like Andrew Lloyd Webber in the highly refined grand style of classic musical stage. Instead Sondheim looks for strange and unusual topics, just like the cannibalistic killer of Sweeney Todd,  for his plays, and succeeds in writing the most loved tender of lengthy songs, like 'Nothing's Going to Harm You'.  But the basic Sondheim, lies somewhere else say for example 'Send in the Clowns' from A Little Night Music; that brings the real lyricist with his innate passions.


The music of Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber's   passion for new type  of music and compositions took him to the great modern poets like T.S. Eliot. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats was the main inspiration and text for  Lloyd Webber, which was characterised by its unique composition. The musical proved out to be unique in many respects, particularly its construction. Lloyd Webber walked away from the traditional patterns and included spoken verse; there was also a tremendous change to the set, which portrayed a junk yard.  Lloyd Webber had great reasons for selecting Eliot. There is plenty of poetry signed by poets of reputation but Eliot's poetry, because of its principle of expression has got far enough away from the principle of prose expression. It should be noted that if the aim of the lyrics is to define and fix an object, fact, feeling thought before the appreciating intelligence, with whatever clearness, power, richness or other beauty of presentation; the aim of the music is to make the thing presented live to the imaginative vision, the responsive inner emotion, the spiritual sense, the soul-feeling and soul-sight. Lloyd Webber's music very well fuses with Eliot's poetry and transcends the listeners to a new experience. His eclecticism is also very much present in the album; musical genres also vary to a great extent from classical to pop, music hall, jazz and electro acoustic music.  It was no surprise that turned out to be the longest performed musical in London, for about twenty one years, just to get replaced only by another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The modern distinction is that music appeals to the imagination and not to the intellect. But there are many kinds of imagination; the objective imagination which strongly visualises the outward aspects of life and things; the subjective imagination which visualises strongly mental and emotional impressions, which have the power to start in the mind.  The imagination which deals with the play of mental fictions and to which we give the name of musical fantasy, the aesthetic imagination which delights in the beauty of words and images for their own sake and sees no farther. Lloyd Webber's Requiem Mass (1985) was a typical example of this objective imagination, which was inspired by an article about the sad situation of the orphans in the war-torn Cambodia. Lloyd Webber also got a Grammy Award for the album in the category of best classical composition, and it was also placed high UK pop charts. Lloyd Webber's in his other great musical, The Phantom of the Opera, intelligently fuses various styles from the grand operas of Meyerbeer to Mozart. Again Webber goes for experimentation but with a renewed urge for self expression. The musical fragments from the grand operas were presented with interruptions by dialogue or action sequences, to construct a show within a show format. Lloyd Webber's works include Whistle Down the Wind, Song and Dance, The Woman in White and The Beautiful Game.

Sondheim's work stands out for his use of complex polyphony in the vocal parts. This is well illustrated in the chorus of A Little Night Music produced in 1973. He also has a passion for angular harmonies which he displayed well along with notes of intricate melodies, which gets mot of the listeners to the compositions of Bach. Sondheim's great fans and enthusiasts consider that his musical sophistication is superior to any of his contemporaries by its attractiveness and originality of craft.  In the same way, most of his aficionados appreciate and love his lyrics for their ambiguity, wit, and urbanity. The lyricists of the period have never philosophised, moralised or criticised life in energetic, telling, beautiful, attractive and cultured verse, but Sondheim interpreted life with a refined poetic power or inspired insight and was stirred and uplifted deeply by great vision of truth. Sondheim showed us the real nature of the lyrics. Rhythm is the premier necessity of poetical expression because it is the sound movement, which carries on its wave the thought movement in the word. It is the musical sound image which most helps to fill in, to subtilise and deepen the thought impression or emotional or vital impression to carry the sense beyond to an expression of the intellectually inexpressible. This is often precipitated as the peculiar power of music. Sondheim's lyrics and music always depicted this great association, and that's why it is more divine that the music of his peers. 

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