When Stephen Sondheim passed away, it seemed that sound waves themselves faltered in reverence. I was in the middle of listening to one of my favorite cast albums, pacing the hallway outside my office as I am wont to do. The memory is intimate, a quiet afternoon at home that could have passed into history with nary a note. I will now remember it in vivid detail for all time: the detached silence as the music cut out, only to be replaced by the shrill ring of a telephone; the way my vision narrowed, until all I could see was a small crack in the flooring; the inaudible, devastating catch in my throat when I tried to respond, and found myself incapable of producing anything more than a soft whimper. And then, the unending cacophony. Phones, ringing off the hook until eventually pulled from their jacks. Sobs, keening and guttural, as the terrible news was shared.
Stephen Joshua Sondheim, beloved artist, friend, and teacher, was gone.