Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Jefferson Johnson


A deeper appreciation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods may be achieved by examining the work under a new magnifying glass. After a synopsis of background information of the musical itself, the assertion is made that Into the Woods shows three basic stages of life that occur in a cycle: innocence, experience, and realization. This is supported by the proposition that the idea of innocence is represented by a recurring five-note motive (commonly referred to as the “bean theme”), and that the ideas of experience and realization are revealed through particular musical numbers. The overarching entity that binds the work together is innocence. By examining the music under this philosophical lens, the reader is guided to a better understanding not only of this specific work, but also of the creative process of Sondheim as a composer.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)