Leonard Bernstein was the quintessential American musician. Through his careers as conductor, pianist, teacher and television personality he became known across the US and the world, his flamboyance and theatricality making him a favourite with audiences, if not with critics. However, he is perhaps best remembered as a composer, particularly of the musical West Side Story, and for songs such as 'America', 'Tonight' and 'Somewhere'. Dr Helen Smith takes an in-depth look at all eight of Bernstein's musical theatre works, from the early On the Town written by the 26-year-old composer at the start of his career, to his second and last opera A Quiet Place in 1983; in between these two pieces he composed music for Trouble in Tahiti, Wonderful Town, Candide, West Side Story, Mass and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. These works are analysed and considered against a background of musical and social context, as well as looking at Bernstein's other orchestral, choral and chamber works. One important aspect examined is Bernstein's use of motifs in his theatre compositions, which takes them out of the realms of Broadway and into the sphere of symphonic writing. Smith provides an indispensable overview of the musical theatre works of an eclectic composer, and shows what it is that constitutes the Bernstein 'sound'.
A Yankee Book Peddler US Core Title for 2011 'Helen Smith’s There’s A Place for Us is a splendid addition to the literature on Leonard Bernstein. This book is a significant new study of all Leonard Bernstein’s major works for the theatre, examining each one in detail. There’s a welcome focus on dramatic and musical structures, and on considering the ways in which Bernstein used particular musical styles and techniques to suit the work at hand - emphasizing the sheer variety of his theatre music. Helen Smith demonstrates a shrewd eye for telling details, and a gift for bringing these to life: she presents the results of her research in a scholarly discussion that is also marked by engaging clarity and enthusiasm.' Nigel Simeone, author of Leonard Bernstein: West Side Story (Ashgate, 2009) 'With the current explosion in scholarship from musicologists on the Broadway musical, it is about time that someone has taken on all eight of Bernstein’s major dramatic works in a single study. Smith approaches each work on its own terms, molding her history of its creation, discussion of its influences, and musical analysis to each show’s individual profile. With clear writing and insightful consideration of musical and dramatic points, this is a book that needs to be consulted by anyone interested in Bernstein or the musical theater.' Paul R. Laird, University of Kansas, USA '… this well researched , insightful and scholarly volume is Smith’s bold assertion that there really is a place for Bernstein’s compositions in the canon of great musical theatre works of the twentieth century. So too, this is a most welcomed addition to the library of anyone who cares about the history of the twentieth-century musical in general and in Bernstein in particular.' Fontes Artis Musicae 'By including all eight lyric theatre works Helen Smith is able to highlight Bernstein’s development as a composer as well as provide a handy resource for those wishing to dip into chapter
Contents: Introduction; On the Town; Trouble in Tahiti; Wonderful Town; Candide; West Side Story; Mass; 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; A quiet place; Conclusion; Bibliography; Indexes.