Sondheim!- page 11 | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian

Sondheim!

A summer festival showcases the wit and artistry of the musical-theater master, drawing "nuts" from all over

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(Continued from page 10)

And someone in a tree.

 

Horowitz pointed out that “very little happens harmonically” in the song.

 

“Until the so-called chorus,” Sondheim said.

 

“So how do you sustain interest in the listener with that kind of relentless music?”

 

Sondheim replied with a story about a visit to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he realized that Japanese art was the ultimate expression of the less-is-more aesthetic. He saw a three-paneled Japanese screen. “The first panel was absolutely blank,” he recalled. “The second panel was absolutely blank except for the end of a bird’s tail; and the third panel had the rest of the bird and a tree. . . . Click! I thought: Ohhhhhhh, it’s all about less is more.”

 

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