Legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim will receive the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award at the 2017 PEN America Literary Gala on April 25 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Meryl Streep, who starred as the Witch in the 2014 film adaptation of Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods, will present the prize.

The PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award is presented annually to a critically acclaimed author whose work embodies PEN America’s mission to oppose repression in any form and to champion the best of humanity. Sondheim’s work has spanned more than six decades, earning him eight Tony Awards (including a Special Lifetime Achievement Award), a Pulitzer Prize, eight Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

His body of work includes West Side StoryGypsyA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumCompanyFolliesA Little Night MusicPacific OverturesSweeney Todd (opening soon in an immersive production at the Barrow Street Theatre), Merrily We Roll AlongInto the WoodsAssassinsPassion, and Sunday in the Park With George, which is being revived at the newly reopened Hudson Theatre in a production starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford. 

“Stephen Sondheim’s oeuvre is profoundly literary in its elegiac reaching for the truth of who we are, how we love, and how we strive to locate meaning in our work,” said Andrew Solomon, president of PEN America. “He will be the first composer-lyricist to receive this award, which recognizes his nuanced insight into human character. His support for a new generation of writers makes him a literary citizen of the first order.”

Sondheim is currently collaborating with David Ives on a new musical, based on two films by Spanish surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel. The project, titled All Together Now, is expected to play the Public Theater in 2017.