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Lucy Simon, Composer of Broadway's The Secret Garden, Dies at 82

Simon earned a Tony nomination for her beloved musical, written with Marsha Norman.

Lucy Simon
(© David Gordon)

Lucy Simon, the Grammy-winning, Tony nominated composer behind the musical The Secret Garden has died at the age of 82, following a long battle with stage four metastatic breast cancer.

Born May 5, 1950 in New York City, she was the daughter of Andrea and Richard Simon. Her father was one of the named cofounders of the publishing giant Simon & Schuster.

Simon's first musical composition was a setting of the poem "Wynken, Blynken & Nod," which she did for a school project (Simon was dyslexic, and that was the only way she could memorize the poem in full). Her eventual recording of the song, performed alongside sister Carly, hit number 83 on the Billboard charts in 1964.

While Carly Simon would find huge success in the rock world, Lucy went to nursing school, and returned to music following the births of her children. She recorded two solo albums, "Lucy Simon" and "Stolen Time" in the late 1970s, and two Grammy-winning children's albums, "In Harmony" and "In Harmony 2" in the early 1980s.

Simon's true calling was writing for the stage. An early project was an adaptation of Little House on the Prairie with lyricist Susan Birkenhead, which was later abandoned. Her biggest success was the score for the musical The Secret Garden (with book by Marsha Norman), which earned a Tony nomination and is widely considered to be one of the best Broadway scores ever written. She also composed the musical Doctor Zhivago, with lyricists Amy Powers and Michael Korie and book writer Michael Weller.

Around the time of her passing, Simon had been working with Birkenhead and Emily Mann on a musical titled On Cedar Street, with Victoria Clark directing. Her cancer battle forced her to bow out of the project, but some of her musical will live on as it moves forward. In addition, a new production of The Secret Garden, directed by Warren Carlyle, will have its world premiere in February 2023 at the Center Theater Group in Los Angeles.

She is survived by her husband, Dr. David Levine; their children, Julie and James; sister Carly, and several grandchildren. She is predeceased by her parents and siblings, Peter and Joanna.


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