Stephen Sondheim is one of 17 individuals being presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to a press release by the White House.
Sondheim is one of the most recognized lyricist and composers in the world and has been awarded eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer), eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and an Oscar in his more than 60 years in the business.
Sondheim was the composer and/or lyricist of such classics as West Side Story, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods to name a few and is the only openly gay person on the list of recipients.
Other honorees include legendary film director Steven Spielberg, gay icon Barbra Streisand, treasured composer Itzhak Perlman and musical idols James Taylor and Gloria Estefan.
“I look forward to presenting these 17 distinguished Americans with our nation’s highest civilian honor,” President Obama said. “From public servants who helped us meet defining challenges of our time to artists who expanded our imaginations, from leaders who have made our union more perfect to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans.”
The honors will be presented at the White House Nov. 24.