West Side Story

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When did West Side Story premier on Broadway?
1957
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Where did the idea for West Side Story come from?
Based on Romeo and Juliet- idea from Jerome Robbins (orignally suggested 'East Side Story', Jewish vs Catholic gang)
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Who wrote the music?
Leonard Bernstein
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Who wrote the lyrics?
Stephen Sondheim
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Why was the idea changed from East side to West side story?
Jewish/Catholic feud was out dated and migration of Puerto Ricans into New York was used as new inspiration.
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What are the comparisons between Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story?
Veron, Italy vs Manhattan, New York; Montagues and Capulets vs Jets and Sharks; Romeo vs Tony; Juliet vs Maria; Balcony Scene vs Tryst of fire escape.
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Why was West Side Story seen as unusual at the time?
Subject matter was a lot more serious whereas typical musical were more like romantic comedies, each musical number forms a link in the plot and contributes to its progression unlike in a musical where a song is more of a stand-alone piece.
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What are the key features of the musical style which Bernstein adopts for West Side Story?
Included traditional operatic styles, classical music forms, popular music riffs and jazz styles.
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Give key examples of the different musical styles being used in West Side Story.
Fugue with 12 note row in 'Cool', High rise chords in 'Somewhere', Jazzcopations in 'Jet Song', Grand operatic aria in 'Maria, Latin rhythms in 'America', Operatic grand scena in 'Tonight Quintet'.
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Who are the key characters in West Side Story?
The Jets (American Gang), Riff (Leader of the Jets), Tony (Riff's friend), The Sharks (Puerto Rican Gang), Bernardo (Leader of the Sharks), Maria (Bernardo's sister), Anita (Maria's friend/Bernardo's girlfriend)
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Which key motif is used throughout the musical?
The Tritone- used to represent conflict between the two gangs. (rising perfect 4th followed by an augmented 4th)
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What are the key features of 'The Prologue'?
Accompanied silent action, first chord = 'major/minor triad', includes all notes of C major but with an added minor 3rd, use of cross rhythms, use of jarring/explosive chords, heavy brass and percussion, polytonal feel, many changes in tempo.
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What are the key features of 'Jet Song'?
Uses motifs from the prologue (e.g. pushed chords), rigid crochet rhythm in voice, syncopated accompaniment, cross rhythms (3/4 voice vs 6/8 accompaniment), Brass and percussion, Jets = American -> American jazz feel (blue notes, syncopation etc.)
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What is the structure of 'Jet Song'?
See extra paper.
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What are the key features of 'Something's Coming'?
Optimistic text contrasting with ambiguous chromatic accompaniment, D major = optimistic/hopeful, 'Who knows?' motif = brief tritone, syncopated vocal line shows anticipation, latin dance feel in accompaniment (hinting at Maria?), lots of short rests
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What are the 4 key pieces within 'Dance at the Gym'?
Blue, Promenade, Mambo, Cha-cha/meeting scene.
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What are the key features of the 'Blues'?
Tense/nervous, begins with hint at Maria's tritone motif, includes influence from Jet song, links to White Americans with Blues/jazz influence, hints at dischords/altered chords.
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What are the key features of the 'Promenade'?
March style, 4/4 metre, used to allow for movement, short so is repeated until cue is heard on stage, some clashing notes and hints towards latin percussion.
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What are the key features of the 'Mambo'?
Very rhythmic, improvisation, major key, tritone motif heard again, Latino Cencerro (Cowbell), trumpet solo, coarse shouts reflecting authentic Latin style, fiery dance, Latin influenced- contrasting to blues to show rivalry between gangs.
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What are the key features of the 'Cha-cha/ Meeting Scene'?
Cool/slow tempo and Maria and Tony approach each other, G major, light and gentle, light flute/plucked strings play 'Maria' very rhythmically, staccato flute plays tritone.
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How does the meeting scene compare to Romeo and Juliet?
Tony and Maria have to fall in love at first sight as the circumstances and the consequences are too complex that no time is left to develop a love relationship- just like Romeo and Juliet.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

Where did the idea for West Side Story come from?

Back

Based on Romeo and Juliet- idea from Jerome Robbins (orignally suggested 'East Side Story', Jewish vs Catholic gang)

Card 3

Front

Who wrote the music?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Who wrote the lyrics?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Why was the idea changed from East side to West side story?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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