Like most genius’ though, this famous composer wasn’t always a smashing success. In his early days, Sondheim partnered with many great composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, and Richard Rogers, writing lyrics for them, and creating some wonderful musicals, for which Sondheim himself though received negative reviews.
His partnership with Richard Rogers in creating Do I Hear a Waltz is one that most intrigues me. Having just come off writing a flop with Anyone Can Whistle, Sondheim admits that Do I Hear a Waltz was written simply because he and Rogers thought it would be an easy way to make a quick buck. In later interviews, Sondheim himself admits that he had very little passion for the project and that the show was a “real failure” in his eyes because it had “no reason to be.” What Sondheim learned from that adventure is extremely telling to any writer, and any artist for that matter. “The only reason to write (or to create) is from love…If you have the privilege of being able to write it, you write it out of passion.”
I dare not compare myself to Stephen Sondheim, but even as I write my tiny little blog, create tiny little videos, and draft what I hope will become a tiny little book, I can’t help but recognize with this wisdom. Great art comes from a place of love, it comes from a place of passion, of obsession even. Great art always stems from the passion of an artist who simply has to get a message out, an image out, a word out. Whatever it may be, it’s created because the artist feels the world is incomplete, and perhaps by creating this piece, maybe he or she can be a part of bringing it one step closer to completion.
This is yet another reason why I believe God has to be the ultimate artist. The Bible makes it clear that God is love, and so everything he does stems from a deep passion for His children. How then could His loving actions, or the loving actions done in His name, not be viewed as a beautiful work of art? I hate to be so unoriginal by using so many quotes, but one of my role models, Erwin McManus puts it this way, “A life well lived is the most exquisite work of art.”
When we live our lives well, when we live them out of love, we weave together a beautiful tapestry of passion for the people, places, and causes we most care about. When we let love lead us, we become an integral part in God’s creative work that He is enacting through all heaven and earth.