The revered lyricist and composer has died at 91, but his search for new ways to express ideas still influences wider culture today

If you’ve ever used the phrases “everything’s coming up roses” or “the ladies who lunch”, you have Stephen Sondheim to thank. He coined them in his lyrics for Gypsy (1959) and Company (1970), two of his most celebrated musicals. But for all the felicitousness of his work as a lyricist, he saw himself as a composer. In truth, not only was he both, the combination catapulted him into a league of his own.

Within moments of news breaking of his sudden death in the early hours of Friday after a Thanksgiving dinner with old friends, shocked tributes began flooding social media. This wasn’t only theatreland in mourning. Sondheim’s remarkable influence across popular culture was startlingly current for an artist still working at 91.

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