West Side Story, Gypsy, and the Art of Broadway Orchestration  book cover
1st Edition

West Side Story, Gypsy, and the Art of Broadway Orchestration

ISBN 9780367086152
Published November 19, 2021 by Routledge
210 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $160.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

In this ground-breaking study, Paul Laird examines the process and effect of orchestration in West Side Story and Gypsy, two musicals that were among the most significant Broadway shows of the 1950s, and remain important in the modern repertory. Drawing on extensive archival research with original manuscripts, Laird provides a detailed account of the process of orchestration for these musicals, and their context in the history of Broadway orchestration. He argues that the orchestration plays a vital role in the characterization and plot development in each major musical number, opening a new avenue for analysis that deepens our understanding of the musical as an art form.

The orchestration of the score in Broadway musicals deeply shapes their final soundscapes, but only recently has it begun to receive real attention. Linked by a shared orchestrator, in other ways West Side Story and Gypsy offer a study in contrasts. Breaking down how the two composers, Leonard Bernstein and Jules Styne, collaborated with orchestrators Sid Ramin, Irwin Kostal, and Robert Ginzler, Laird’s study enables us to better understand both of these two iconic shows, and the importance of orchestration within musical theatre in general.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: "Introduction"

Chapter 2: "Broadway Orchestration in the 1950s"

Chapter 3: "West Side Story and Gypsy: Composers and Orchestrators"

Chapter 4: "Process and Effect in the Orchestration of West Side Story"

Chapter 5: "Process and Effect in the Orchestration of Gypsy"

Chapter 6: "Concluding Thoughts: Orchestration and Shared Illusions"

View More



Paul R. Laird is Professor of Musicology at the University of Kansas, where he teaches courses on music history and the history of musical theater, and directs the Instrumental Collegium Musicum. He has also co-written the second edition of Leonard Bernstein: A Research and Information Guide (Routledge)with Hsun Lin.