Leonard Bernstein As A Renaissance Man Of Music

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Leonard Bernstein was a Renaissance man of music: he “[conducted], [recorded], [played] piano . . . and [composed] several first-rate Broadway musicals that produced a number of pop hits” (Peyser 32). Through his achievements and works from varying aspects of the music field, Bernstein, the American musician, not only demonstrated that genius had no limits, but also fundamentally altered the future of musicals, conducting, and classical music.
Bernstein composed the music for the musical West Side Story, which marked a watershed in the technical craftsmanship of musicals. The New York Times theater reviewer Alvin Klein stated that the “masterful technique [in West Side Story] still induces visceral sensations one after another. And that defined the essence of American musical theater” (Klein). His review is valid since the strengths of the musical, including the theatrical “integration of script, song, dance, and set,” were due to the fact that each co-creator of the musical, including Bernstein, were talented in the task they were responsible for, whether it was composing or designing (“West Side Story”).
Not only is West Side Story important for how it raised the standard for American musicals, the musical is also important because it reflected many American themes in its story and impact, such as “love conquering prejudice, youth against maturity, tradition challenging progress” (Guttman). For instance, that the musical’s co-creators (Bernstein, Robbins, Laurents, and
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