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Thread: Music Composed by Bernstein

  1. #16
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    ^^^so it would seem.....
    https://amblin.com/movie/west-side-s...rome%20Robbins.

    John Williams is doing the score...............................(joke)...No wait, reading on, the music has been 'arranged' by David Newman...uh oh. Maybe it's just been beefed up as it doesn't need to be pit size.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Apr-19-2021 at 19:21.
    New website and some new music......www.mikehewer.com

  2. #17
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    ^^^so it would seem.....
    https://amblin.com/movie/west-side-s...rome%20Robbins.

    John Williams is doing the score...............................(joke)...No wait, reading on, the music has been 'arranged' by David Newman...uh oh. Maybe it's just been beefed up as it doesn't need to be pit size.
    I am not impressed with the photos of the cast, they look more like New York models than hoods. I'll probably pass on it, the original is too good and I don't need to see a remake.

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    Senior Member mbhaub's Avatar
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    Yes! It's cultural appropriation!!!!! They should have used real hoods in the cast! New York has plenty of them.
    "It is surprising how easily one can become used to bad music" - F. Mendelssohn

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    I'm rarely convinced by Bernstein as a conductor.
    I also don't listen much to vocal or choral works.

    However, I really like his Chichester Psalms. Go figure.

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    Senior Member SONNET CLV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Steven Spielberg is doing a remake of West Side Story?
    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    I am not impressed with the photos of the cast, they look more like New York models than hoods. I'll probably pass on it, the original is too good and I don't need to see a remake.

    Of course, this is a theatre piece. It was written not for a single performance (or production) but as a blueprint for repeated and variously interpreted productions. Aren't we glad Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was not proclaimed "too good" after its initial production, one in which the playwright himself likely participated and which featured a male youth playing Juliet, and thus never received a "new" production?

    West Side Story is readable in a script. Thousands of folks (many being theatre directors, designers, and performers) approach it this way each year, confronting words on a page, bringing to the reading their own inspired imaginations which may have little to do with any previous production, even one they may have themselves seen, to bring to life the characters, the settings, the actions of the plot in a new and original way.

    No matter how much I enjoy the original West Side Story film, I remain open to new productions. Fortunately there are many stage productions of the musical each year, in the professional and community theatre, in college and university theatre. I've worked on my share of such productions, each one unique though loyal to the script. I've seen a variety of competencies in the roles of Tony, Maria, Riff, Doc, Bernardo and Anita. I've seen set designs of "west side New York" that wowed me and others at which I shrugged off in disinterest. I've seen "America" sung and danced with lively vigors in so many ways, and a few times disappointingly. Never have I thought "I don't need this. That other one is good enough."

    As one who has written plays, I know the value of having more than one production. I've seen my own shows done with different levels of interpretive values, sometimes with great improvements and other times with missteps. I never thought any production was enough, that any one production had captured the essence of all that the script allowed. Such is the dramatic art.

    Let us rather welcome this new film production of the musical-play West Side Story. Let us rather approach it enthusiastically to see what it may have to offer in further illuminating the characters and the action and the settings and the musical numbers of this rather complex vehicle, based, as it is, on a Shakespeare play (and we know that playwright was no slouch). Who knows? You may not enjoy the production much. On the other hand, you may want to stand and yell "Bravo!" at the close. In either case, you should be open to the nature of the dramatic art, which, unlike a sculpture or painting or poem or novel, is not something "set in stone" or in any other single-ended and closed format. Though each individual is free to interpret a sculpture, painting, poem or novel how he/she will, the dramatic art (a written script) is only fully realized as a theatre piece with living actors in front of a setting, and all the various artistic interpretations that render the theatre piece "true" for that particular production.

    In any case, I intend to see the production. But then, I like the Leonard Bernstein music it features. That seems strong enough reason to visit the production for yet another time.

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  7. #21
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    I am not impressed with the photos of the cast, they look more like New York models than hoods. I'll probably pass on it, the original is too good and I don't need to see a remake.
    I'm not old enough to have seen the original Broadway show, but I did see the 1980 production, the last one directed by Robbins (and the movie, of course). Surprisingly, I didn't find it very inspiring, other than Debbie Allen in the role of Anita. It seemed too much like a strained effort to exactly reproduce the original, with tentative actors not being given enough freedom to express their own styles.

    Robbins was notoriously demanding and difficult to work with, and was fired while the movie was being made, though he still got directing credit. But none of that can diminish Bernstein's music, in my opinion.

  8. #22
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SONNET CLV View Post
    Of course, this is a theatre piece. It was written not for a single performance (or production) but as a blueprint for repeated and variously interpreted productions. Aren't we glad Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was not proclaimed "too good" after its initial production, one in which the playwright himself likely participated and which featured a male youth playing Juliet, and thus never received a "new" production?

    West Side Story is readable in a script. Thousands of folks (many being theatre directors, designers, and performers) approach it this way each year, confronting words on a page, bringing to the reading their own inspired imaginations which may have little to do with any previous production, even one they may have themselves seen, to bring to life the characters, the settings, the actions of the plot in a new and original way.

    No matter how much I enjoy the original West Side Story film, I remain open to new productions. Fortunately there are many stage productions of the musical each year, in the professional and community theatre, in college and university theatre. I've worked on my share of such productions, each one unique though loyal to the script. I've seen a variety of competencies in the roles of Tony, Maria, Riff, Doc, Bernardo and Anita. I've seen set designs of "west side New York" that wowed me and others at which I shrugged off in disinterest. I've seen "America" sung and danced with lively vigors in so many ways, and a few times disappointingly. Never have I thought "I don't need this. That other one is good enough."

    As one who has written plays, I know the value of having more than one production. I've seen my own shows done with different levels of interpretive values, sometimes with great improvements and other times with missteps. I never thought any production was enough, that any one production had captured the essence of all that the script allowed. Such is the dramatic art.

    Let us rather welcome this new film production of the musical-play West Side Story. Let us rather approach it enthusiastically to see what it may have to offer in further illuminating the characters and the action and the settings and the musical numbers of this rather complex vehicle, based, as it is, on a Shakespeare play (and we know that playwright was no slouch). Who knows? You may not enjoy the production much. On the other hand, you may want to stand and yell "Bravo!" at the close. In either case, you should be open to the nature of the dramatic art, which, unlike a sculpture or painting or poem or novel, is not something "set in stone" or in any other single-ended and closed format. Though each individual is free to interpret a sculpture, painting, poem or novel how he/she will, the dramatic art (a written script) is only fully realized as a theatre piece with living actors in front of a setting, and all the various artistic interpretations that render the theatre piece "true" for that particular production.

    In any case, I intend to see the production. But then, I like the Leonard Bernstein music it features. That seems strong enough reason to visit the production for yet another time.
    You can do what you want. I recently rented the original and watched it, that will do me for a while.

    I also don't like Bernstein's DG "operatic" version with José Carreras, hopelessly miscast as the Polish gang member Tony. Pretty hard to get past his Spanish accent and inability to handle the syncopation of his songs. The clip of him rehearsing Something's Coming is gruesome.

    So, no, I'll keep watching the original film and listening to the original Broadway cast album.

  9. #23
    Senior Member allaroundmusicenthusiast's Avatar
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    I don't know if the conversation's past it, but I want to back up SanAntone on his love for Bernstein's Mass. I think it's by far his most interesting work and, to me, his most appealing. I also have a profound dislike for his symphony 3: it wants to be Mahler, but falls absolutely short of the mark and it even has a narrator which says things that the music ought to express, like what happens in a Mahler symphony

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  11. #24
    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    If I can gain any real foothold I would like to get to know better the works Bernstein composed when he played around with numbers - Jubilee Games, Dybbuk etc. - I like listening to them but, as with Schoenberg, I often think I'm merely scratching the surface because of the rarefied rules they set for themselves.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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    Guessing his DG symphony cycle would be the one to get? I've heard Mass and well, the musicals, but not his symphonies.

  13. #26
    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fbjim View Post
    Guessing his DG symphony cycle would be the one to get? I've heard Mass and well, the musicals, but not his symphonies.
    The recordings of the symphonies with the Israel PO are fine but if you can snare them at a reasonable price I would still go for the NYPO on Sony.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

  14. #27
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    Bernstein's NYPO "Jeremiah" is very fine....so is the CSO archival release by Barenboim with Chicago...both. very excellent....mvt II is, imo, one of Bernstein's best creations...

  15. #28
    Senior Member Prodromides's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Steven Spielberg is doing a remake of West Side Story?
    Yet another reason for E.T. to go home.

    Hope this won't turn into a West Coast Suburban Story ...

  16. #29
    Senior Member Olias's Avatar
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    For Bernstein's compositions:

    LOVE
    "Jeremiah" Symphony
    Prelude Fugue and Riffs
    Candide (all of it)
    Mass
    West Side Story
    Slava
    Fancy Free Ballet
    On the Waterfront
    On the Town


    For LB's conducting and recordings, I tend to generally love them BUT I always have a non-Bernstein recording to compliment the Bernstein one. I find that whether I like the LB version or not, it is definitely special and uniquely different, which I find refreshing. I did once meet a cellist from the NY Philharmonic that told me "Anyone who didn't like Bernstein never played under Bernstein."

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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Virgil Thomson referred to Bernstein as a minor composer who mainly was a conductor, while he didn't try hard to disguise the fact that he considered himself a major composer...
    Did Thomson say that while Bernstein was alive? No wonder Bernstein didn't record any of Thomson's music. As much as I love the American composers for, perhaps, patriotic reasons; I concede that very few (Ives? Copland? Barber?) rise to a level even possibly on par with our European counterparts. Even so, despite Bernstein's faults as a composer, he is still top-tier, or just shy of top-tier as an American composer; as interesting, entertaining, and as enjoyable as Roy Harris, Walter Piston, William Schuman, Roger Sessions, Elliott Carter, Ulysses Kay, Alan Hovhaness, John Cage, as well as, Virgil Thomson himself and other American composers of that time period. Virgil Thomson's Symphony on a Hymn Tune can be considered to be a great American symphony. If Symphony on a Hymn Tune and the two or three other things that I've heard by Thomson are representative of his oeuvre then his music is tonal, well-measured, pleasant, and very "Americana". Apart from this I don't know much else about Thomson that is memorable. Thomson wrote two operas, Mother of Us All and Four Saints in Three Acts with librettos by Gertrude Stein, that I've read are kind of good, though I still haven't come around to hearing them yet.

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