Stephen Schwartz was born in New York City on March 6, 1948. He studied piano and composition at the Juilliard School of Music while in high school and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1968 with a B.F.A. in Drama. Upon coming back to live in New York City, he went to work as a producer for RCA Records, but shortly thereafter began to work in the Broadway theatre. His first major credit was the title song for the play Butterflies Are Free; the song was eventually used in the movie version, as well.
In 1971, he wrote the music and new lyrics for Godspell, followed by the English texts in collaboration with Leonard Bernstein for Bernstein’s Mass, which opened the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The following year, he wrote the music and lyrics for Pippin, and two years later, The Magic Show. At one point, Godspell, Pippin and The Magic Show were all running on Broadway simultaneously. Other musicals to which he has contributed music and lyrics include The Baker’s Wife, Working, Rags (music by Charles Strouse), Children of Eden and the currently running Broadway hit, Wicked.
For film, he collaborated with composer Alan Menken on the scores for the Disney animated features Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Disney's live-action Enchanted. He also provided songs for DreamWorks’ first animated feature, The Prince of Egypt.
His first opera, Séance on a Wet Afternoon, premiered at Opera Santa Barbara in the fall of 2009 and was recently produced by New York City Opera.
His songs have been recorded by artists such as Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Bette Midler, Vanessa Williams, Carrie Underwood, Five for Fighting, Jane Olivor, Mika and many others.
He has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Theatre Hall of Fame, and has been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Awards include three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, and four Drama Desk Awards.
Under the auspices of the ASCAP Foundation, he runs musical theatre workshops in New York and Los Angeles; he is also currently President of the Dramatists Guild.