Born in Lawrence, MA, Bernstein was an American composer, conductor, and pianist noted for his accomplishments in classical and popular music.Bridging the gap between Concert Hall and Broadway, his flamboyant conducting style made him a glamorous musical figure. Bernstein was a longtime music director of the New York Philharmonic and was the first classical conductor to make several television appearances.
West Side Story is an American musical set in the Upper West Side of New York City during the 1950s. A gritty urban setting surrounded by rival street gangs, West Side Story is a modern take on Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. It opened on Broadway in 1957 and received harsh criticism from journalists who found the performance much too realistic for a musical. The Mambo, perhaps one of the most popular movements, is an exciting and fast Cuban dance. In the 1950s, articles published in New York City announced an emerging “mambo revolution,” so it comes as no surprise that Bernstein added this Cuban-style movement. Dominated by different rhythms in the brass and percussion sections, it is a successful attempt at representing the combative and feuding gangs. The rhythms of the cowbell will have you dancing in your seat!