West Side Story
by Bernstein
arr. Gilmore


(Born; Lawrence, MA, 25 Aug 1918; Died;New York, 14 Oct 1990 ). American conductor, composer and pianist. He studied at Harvard and the Curtis Institute and was a protege of Koussevitzky. In 1944 he made his reputation as a conductor when he stepped in when Bruno Walter was ill; thereafter he was associated particularly with the Israel PO(from 1947), the Boston SO and the New York PO (musical director, 1958-69), soon achieving an international reputation, conducting in Vienna and at La Scala. During his tenure the New York PO flourished as never before. A gifted pianist, he often performed simultaneously as soloist and conductor. At the same time, he pursued a career as a composer, cutting across the boundaries between high and popular culture in his mixing of Mahler and Broadway, Copland and Bach. His theatre works are mostly in the Broadway manner: they include the ballet Fancy Free (1944) and the musicals Candide (1956) and West Side Story (1957). His more ambitious works, many of them couched in a richly chromatic, intense post-Mahlerian idiom, often have a religious inspiration, for example the ‘Jeremiah’ Symphony with mezzo (1942), ‘Kaddish’, with soloists and choirs (1963) and the theatre piece Mass (1971). OperasTrouble in Tahiti (1952), rev. as A Quiet Place (1983)

Publisher: Schirmer

Year of publication: 1957

Grade: 6

Programming suggestions: Based on the musical by Leonard Bernstein, Prologue from “West Side Story” is sure to remind you of the romance between Tony and Maria.

Solo instruments: alto sax, flute, piccolo, trumpet, oboe, percussion, horn, clarinet

Anecdotal notes: Large leaps in brass instruments. Many repeated passages may be difficult for players to follow. Thin scoring may require strong and confident players. Several meter and many key changes. Numerous key changes may cause students to miss notes. Some duple meter in the 6/8 section, but played alone so it should not pose a problem. Wide range of dynamics will require good control by the ensemble.

Discography: West Side Story musical.

Recording of "Prologue: West Side Story"