Even if you’ve never checked out the 1957 hit musical West Side Story, I"ll bet you have the right to hum the tune from "Tonight," "Maria," "America" or any variety of the show"s signature songs and also dance pieces on command also.

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West Side Story is just that iconic, and Leonard Bernstein"s music for the present has actually taken root simply that deeply in Amerihave the right to society.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of composer, conductor and also pianist Leonard Bernstein"s birthday, the score for the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story is the focus of this episode of SoundReels, Classical 101’s film music podcast.

Soundtrack: Amazon | ArkivMusic

Directed by Robert Wise and also Jerome Robbins, the film adaptation of West Side Story took 10 Academy Awards, consisting of for Best Picture and also Best Music Scoring for a Motion Picture.

Saul Chaplin, Johnny Green, Irwin Kostal and also Sid Ramin scoredBernstein"s music forWest Side Story.

You might think Tony and also Maria are the lead personalities in West Side Story.But as the saying goes, and also as we"ll watch in this episode of SoundReels, the evil one is in the details — of the musical score.

Set in New York City, West Side Story plays out the timeless tale of Romeo and Juliet in between Tony, a first-generation Polish-Amerideserve to, and also Maria, a Puerto Rican immigrant.

The lovers inhabit oppowebsite sides of an ethnic and also social divide embopassed away by two warring street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks.

The extremely first 2 notes of Bernstein"s music for the film adaptation of West Side Story warn of this department and also trouble ahead.

Those two notes outline the interval dubbed a tritone, which divides the octave in half. Because of its evil and volatile sound, Middle ages music theorists referred to as the tritone "the adversary in music."

You have the right to hear the tritone at the exceptionally start of the film"s opening scene:


Throughout the film, and on every level of the score, this musical divider represents the department in between the Jets and also the Sharks and — despite their better initiatives — between Tony and Maria that plays out as dramaticdispute to tragic impact.

In Tony"s love aria "Maria," the tritone shows up on the first 2 syllables of Maria"s name (at minute 3:04 right into the clip):


The tritone additionally reflects up at the beginning of the song "Cool," which Ice sings to his fellow Jets after a rumble that runs violently amok:


And — spoiler alert! — the tritone makes its means into Tony and Maria"s love duet "Somewhere" at the finish of the film, after the story transforms tragic.

Join me and also co-host Jon Sherman, associate professor of film at Kenyon College, for this episode of SoundReels and fulfill the devil face-to-challenge in Bernstein"s dramatic, award-winning score for West Side Story.

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Enjoy even more episodes of SoundReels below, and listen to even even more great film music in the time of the Summer Festival of Amerihave the right to Film Music onThe Amerihave the right to Sound, Saturdays at 6 p.m. and Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on Classical 101.

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