Peter Manning, Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: A Study (MA, NUI Maynooth), in progress

These details defined Thu Jul 31 19:19:08 2014  edit
 Author:  Manning, Peter 
 Title:  Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: A Study 
 Degree, institution:  MA, NUI Maynooth 
 Status, year:  in progress 
 Supervisor(s):  Dr. Laura Watson 
 General specialism:  Musicology 
 Content, key terms:  Concepts:
Genres, instruments: 
Film music, church music, opera, questions of genre, character analysis
Stephen Sondheim
Musical Theatre

Stephen Sondheim is by far the most influential figure in the development of musical theatre in the latter half of the twentieth-century, and now, in the twenty-first century. An early mentee of Oscar Hammerstein II, Sondheim is a composer and lyricist who approached the Broadway musical structure with innovative methods and techniques, leading to many subversive and controversial works. Sondheim’s 1979 masterpiece Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is a perfect example of how this composer re-approached the musical theatre form. This thesis serves as a brief study of Sweeney Todd. The examination of various aspects of music, text and character brings to light this work’s significance in the musical theatre world. The study begins with a commentary on the origins of the Sweeney Todd story, and the 1973 retelling by Christopher Bond, which led to the 1979 Sondheim musical. An examination of the work’s film influences is carried out, along with Sondheim’s innovative use of the Dies Irae theme as part of the score. The study then analyses the principal characters of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett and the chorus, from a musical and textual standpoint. A detailed plot synopsis of the show, along with a list of musical numbers is presented in the appendix.