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Steven Spielberg Is Officially Remaking West Side Story. JW will be an arranger?

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Why not? I think JW would be pleased to do it. And he's probably the best for doing it.

 

... and a new Overture would be welcome... the whole music of the piece could be modernized a lot in fact, I'm listening to the expanded OST now... and my god, it's so sixties... it's almost unlistenable.

 

A big challenge.

 

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2 hours ago, filmmusic said:

So, upcoming John Williams scores are an 8th sequel, a 4th sequel and an adaptation!

 

I'm getting nervous about Spielberg's baffling decision to put off shooting Indy 5 until next year for a 2020 release, putting it right in the cross-hairs of Episode IX's recording schedule.

 

Hopefully John's already writing/recording IX by the start of 2019 and has a free schedule to score Indy 5 by October.

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Just now, crumbs said:

 

I'm getting nervous about Spielberg's baffling decision to put off shooting Indy 5 until next year for a 2020 release, putting it right in the cross-hairs of Episode IX's recording schedule.

 

Hopefully John's already writing/recording IX by the start of 2019 and has a free schedule to score Indy 5 by October.

I keep hoping Indy 5 turns out to be something that never happens. I only love Raiders out of the lot (and that goes for scores too), and I don't see any of the three sequels to date as essential, though I love the Grail and father/son material from Last Crusade. As far as West Side Story goes, I think it would be interesting if Williams were to do new adaptations of the songs and maybe write some new underscore, but I honestly like the arrangements from the 60s just fine.

Just now, pete said:

Is it possible Spielberg will ask for entirely new songs and score?

I don't think it would be West Side Story with new songs. The Bernstein/Sondheim songs are so established and ingrained that trying to replace them would be a fool's errand.

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4 hours ago, Josh500 said:

I thought his next movie was Indy 5!

 

It was supposed to be, but it doesn't seem to have gone much in the way of actual development, so I wouldn't be surprised if Spielberg is instead attempting a West Side Story remake first, which is something he's been wanting to do for a while anyway. 

 

Personally I'm fine with him doing West Side Story first, if only because I've wanted to see Spielberg do a musical for a while now. 

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Whatever. I'm fine with West Side Story.

 

I just hope Tom Hanks isn't the lead. :D

57 minutes ago, JTWfan77 said:

Apparently Indy 5 is next, before WSS:

 

http://www.darkhorizons.com/indiana-jones-5-is-next-for-spielberg/

 

I dunno. I kinda like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I've come around. The plot is preposterous, but I like the music and the set pieces. Plus, the beginning is awesome.

 

So here's to hoping Indy 5 will be twice as spectacular. 

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2 hours ago, TheUlyssesian said:

 

I like it too. It's better than the superhero gutter trash that Hollywood puts out. It's well directed and well put together at the least.

 

Exactly!

 

I still think this scene is pretty awesome. The music puts it over the top, of course. 

 

 

And I also like this opening, although no JW music here.

 

 

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As I said in the other thread, I'm not thrilled about this project, but if there's ONE composer currently alive who should be doing the Bernstein adaptation, it's Williams. He was a close friend of Bernstein, worked with him as session musician in the past and has previously done Bernstein adaptations for the concert scene ("For New York").

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2 hours ago, Josh500 said:

 

Exactly!

 

I still think this scene is pretty awesome. The music puts it over the top, of course. 

 

 

And I also like this opening, although no JW music here.

 

 

 

Although it absolutely "works" with Elvis, this would make a thrilling main title sequence, if scored by JW.

Btw, @Josh500 the first music heard in this scene, is by JW.

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One moment. Is there any official announcement about an involvement of JW in the project? As far as music is concerned, West Side Story does not need to be re-arranged at all! A new recording would be welcome, but... re-arranging??

 

And there should be no ouverture at all. Bernstein wanted the performance to start immediately with the first song, which is written with the specific purpose to set the stage and the mood of the situation, to take you there. He had to write an ouverture, but then discarded it.  

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9 hours ago, Thor said:

As I said in the other thread, I'm not thrilled about this project, but if there's ONE composer currently alive who should be doing the Bernstein adaptation, it's Williams. He was a close friend of Bernstein, worked with him as session musician in the past and has previously done Bernstein adaptations for the concert scene ("For New York").

 

Williams was a session player for Johnny Green. Bernstein had no involvement in the recording process for the film. If memory serves, Bernstein did stop by at the sessions only, not on a professional basis.

 

As for "New York", I wouldn't call it an adaptation. It's a Williams piece with quotes of Bernstein tunes (and also Happy Birthday). Adaptation is what Williams did in his 1958 recording of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and Alexander Courage's later Porgy and Bess Fantasy for Williams' Gershwin Fantasy album.

 

As for being close friends... they did share the podium both at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, since both had/have close ties with the BSO.

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4 hours ago, Miguel Andrade said:

Williams was a session player for Johnny Green. Bernstein had no involvement in the recording process for the film. If memory serves, Bernstein did stop by at the sessions only, not on a professional basis.

 

Williams performed on the WEST SIDE STORY album.

 

Quote

As for "New York", I wouldn't call it an adaptation. It's a Williams piece with quotes of Bernstein tunes (and also Happy Birthday). Adaptation is what Williams did in his 1958 recording of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and Alexander Courage's later Porgy and Bess Fantasy for Williams' Gershwin Fantasy album.

 

It's as much an adaptation as "Air and Simple Gifts" is (partially) an adaptation of Copland. Point is he's very well versed in the Bernstein vernacular.

 

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As for being close friends... they did share the podium both at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, since both had/have close ties with the BSO.

 

Exactly. Maybe not 'close' as in "I'll call Lenny up for a Friday beer", but close in a professional capacity.

 

There's no point underestimating the link between Bernstein and Williams, Miguel. It's very much there.

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On 1/26/2018 at 9:00 AM, Bespin said:

Why not? I think JW would be pleased to do it. And he's probably the best for doing it.

 

... and a new Overture would be welcome... the whole music of the piece could be modernized a lot in fact, I'm listening to the expanded OST now... and my god, it's so sixties... it's almost unlistenable.

 

A big challenge.

 

Part of why it is great is because it is part of its time.  Like any great work to a big extent they belong in their time.  The first time I saw this film was at a "live to concert" event and I was blown away by it because it felt so right in its context.  The first half felt so innocent and 1950's (officer Krupke and I feel pretty) because it was a product of that time but the second half was so edgy (stay cool and really the end of the film).  I really believe the reason this is a masterpiece is because it is a snapshot of a very complex cultural transition that was happening then.  As someone who saw it for the first time only recently the original is a snapshot.  Also please note that the film is itself a remake of a theater work from ten years earlier or Romeo and Juliet from hundreds of years earlier so this is a remake of a remake of a remake which of course can work but they aren't really remaking West Side Story but Romeo and Juliette for the umpteenth time. Basically another modernization of that story which is what West Side Story was in the first place.

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10 hours ago, Thor said:

 

Williams performed on the WEST SIDE STORY album.

 

 

It's as much an adaptation as "Air and Simple Gifts" is (partially) an adaptation of Copland. Point is he's very well versed in the Bernstein vernacular.

 

 

Exactly. Maybe not 'close' as in "I'll call Lenny up for a Friday beer", but close in a professional capacity.

 

There's no point underestimating the link between Bernstein and Williams, Miguel. It's very much there.

 

I remain right. Williams performed for Johnny Green. Not Bernstein. Bernstein did not conduct or arrange any material for the West Side Story soundtrack. 

Williams never recorded on a Bernstein orchestra!

 

Air and Simple gifts isn't an adaptation of Copland. Both Copland and Williams quote and arrange the traditional hymn "Simple Gifts" on, respectively, Appalachian Spring and Air and Simple Gifts. Now, if you say that the way Williams used the quote was to make a reference to Copland (since he's Obama's favorite composer), I'll agree with you. But he's certainly not adapting Copland's version of the tune either.

 

I never underestimate the link between Bernstein and Williams. Where did I do so? I just pointed out that they were certainly close on a professional capacity. I never saw anything that would confirm a close relation beyond that. There could possibly be one, of course. Did you know Williams conducted the L.A. Phil premiere of Bernstein's Divertimento? 

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1 hour ago, Miguel Andrade said:

I remain right. Williams performed for Johnny Green. Not Bernstein. Bernstein did not conduct or arrange any material for the West Side Story soundtrack. 

Williams never recorded on a Bernstein orchestra!

 

My point was that Williams was involved with Bernstein material early on, through recordings such as the WEST SIDE STORY album. I would be very surprised if Williams and Bernstein weren't also familiar with each other at the time; if not on a personal level, then at least professional.

 

It's true I've never read any comments from Williams that he was personal friends with Bernstein, but I think it's a fair assumption based on the amount of works (like tribute pieces such as "For New York"), the Tanglewood links and so on.

 

Quote

Air and Simple gifts isn't an adaptation of Copland. Both Copland and Williams quote and arrange the traditional hymn "Simple Gifts" on, respectively, Appalachian Spring and Air and Simple Gifts. Now, if you say that the way Williams used the quote was to make a reference to Copland (since he's Obama's favorite composer), I'll agree with you. But he's certainly not adapting Copland's version of the tune either.


Both "For New York" and "Air and Simple Gifts" contain quotes from, respectively, Bernstein and Copland, and their particular vernacular. Whether you'd call that quoting or adaptation, is a matter of semantics.

 

Quote

I never underestimate the link between Bernstein and Williams. Where did I do so?

 

Well, since you basically set out to debunk the three main link points that I mentioned, it seemed to be your goal.

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Again, and please, don't take this personal, because it certainly isn't, let me express what, in my mind, needs to be adressed.

 

The fact that Williams was aware of Bernstein in the early 60's does not make Bernstein aware of Williams at that time. As you very well know, at that point, Williams was starting his composer career in Hollywood. Bernstein wasn't a Hollywood man, even if he was considered and invited to become an actor -- fortunately, he remained a dedicated musician and educator.

Addressing that point on your original post was because, the way I understood it, you were saying Williams worked under Bernstein in the 1961 sessions for West Side Story, which wasn't the case. But Williams was surely much aware of Bernstein ahead of that -- I would be surprised to discover if he hadn't heard before this time Bernstein's two very successful Symphonies and some of his other concert works, as well as his two previous musicals (On the Town and Wonderful Town), and naturally, Bernstein's only film score, On the Waterfront.

 

I wouldn't be surprised that in 70's, Bernstein was somewhat aware of Williams, and surely from the late 70's on, with Williams appointment to the Pops, they were well acquainted. They even did, just the two of them, a whole Tanglewood on Parade concert, during the mid 80's (Williams conducted Barber pieces, Bernstein some Tchaikovsky, if memory serves).

Williams and mostly everyone else seems to hold Bernstein in high esteem (and rightly so, in my opinion), and Williams as expressed that on several occasions. He performed extensively Bernstein's works during his Pops tenure and For New York was one of the pieces commissioned for the Bernstein's 70th anniversary celebrations at Tanglewood - hence the quotations. Nevertheless, I can't agree with you in the way you look at this things. It's a quote in a Williams piece by a tune by another composer -- in the case of Air and Simple Gifts he's only quoting a traditional piece! He didn't go out to try to imitate Bersntein's style. It surely doesn't sound like that to my ears, I'm sorry. Quoting and adapting are different things, I wouldn't call it semantics.

 

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1 hour ago, Miguel Andrade said:

Addressing that point on your original post was because, the way I understood it, you were saying Williams worked under Bernstein in the 1961 sessions for West Side Story, which wasn't the case.

 

Sorry if that caused a misunderstanding. I was talking about his session work on the WSS album.  I know he never performed directly under Bernstein's supervision (to our knowledge so far). Speaking of which, do we know for certain that Bernstein wasn't in some way involved with that Green album? Like having to approve it, for example?

 

1 hour ago, Miguel Andrade said:

I wouldn't be surprised that in 70's, Bernstein was somewhat aware of Williams, and surely from the late 70's on, with Williams appointment to the Pops, they were well acquainted. They even did, just the two of them, a whole Tanglewood on Parade concert, during the mid 80's (Williams conducted Barber pieces, Bernstein some Tchaikovsky, if memory serves).

 

Exactly. I think it's likely Williams and Bernstein eventually attained a personal relationship at this point in time.

 

1 hour ago, Miguel Andrade said:

Nevertheless, I can't agree with you in the way you look at this things. It's a quote in a Williams piece by a tune by another composer -- in the case of Air and Simple Gifts he's only quoting a traditional piece! He didn't go out to try to imitate Bersntein's style. It surely doesn't sound like that to my ears, I'm sorry. Quoting and adapting are different things, I wouldn't call it semantics.

 

But it's COPLAND's take on the traditional piece Williams is channeling, right? Maybe I've misunderstood "Air", but I always assumed that, rather than Williams simply using the same folk melody that Copland used, he also used Copland's arrangement of it?

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From what I understood, Williams included the traditional hymn as a nod to Copland's use of the same tune. Williams did his own arrangement. I actually find the opening/closing Air sections to have a greater debt to Copland's Appalachia Spring, the way he use the harmony, though it still distinctly sounds like Williams.

 

As for the 1961 sessions and album, I believe that in the LB Letters published a few years ago, there was some material with references to the film, and my understanding is that Bernstein had nothing to do with it. They surely shown him the material, but that was all.

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Nice photo! Taken just a year before Bernstein passed away.

 

I think Williams was profoundly inspired by Lenny as a kid. In his formative years, he (and his friends) used to play a game of recognizing various studio orchestras around LA, so I wouldn't be surprised if Bernstein was already on Williams' radar by the mid or late 40s.

 

Maybe I'm the only one, but I can heard shades of Bernstein in Williams' first score, DADDY-O.

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I'm quite sure JW will be involved as music supervisor/arranger. I cannot think of anyone else more qualified than JW for such a job and he would also have all the support and aid from Bernstein's estate given his track record.

 

Kushner said in an interview that the libretto and the score will not be modified, so it's likely gonna be a work of adapting it to the new requirements, most likely staying as close as possible to Bernstein's original score. What JW could add would likely be short connective tissue material (written in the spirit of Bernstein's score) to be used as underscore and perhaps beef up just a notch the original orchestrations, but nothing too invasive. West Side Story is one of the great masterpiece of 20th century American music and there's no need to modify or tamper with it too much.

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1 hour ago, Thor said:

Nice photo! Taken just a year before Bernstein passed away.

 

I think Williams was profoundly inspired by Lenny as a kid. In his formative years, he (and his friends) used to play a game of recognizing various studio orchestras around LA, so I wouldn't be surprised if Bernstein was already on Williams' radar by the mid or late 40s.

 

Maybe I'm the only one, but I can heard shades of Bernstein in Williams' first score, DADDY-O.

 

I'm sure he was aware of Bernstein not because of the material recorded in LA. Bernstein was a huge musical figure right from the start, through his concert works and musicals. On the Town (1944) was a huge sucess, even before the Williams move to California. As an interesting bit of information, Bernstein stoped doing musicals after Wonderful Town, out of respect to his mentor, the famous BSO music director Sergei Koussevitzky. Only after his death, did he return to Broadway, doing West Side Story, his greatest sucess. His later Broadway efforts weren't as sucessful though they all seem to have proved the test of time.

3 minutes ago, TownerFan said:

West Side Story is one of the great masterpiece of 20th century American music and there's no need to modify or tamper with it too much.

 

That encapsulates my feelings about the project. There's no need... 

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Daddy-O seems to be influenced more by the jazzy sound of "the other Bernstein" (Elmer). I'm sure JW always had Lenny in high esteem. I mean, he was a towering figure since the early 1950s for any musician.

 

I always found some Lenny-inspired moments in JW's early concert piece "Prelude and Fugue", btw.

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38 minutes ago, Miguel Andrade said:

Bernstein stoped doing musicals after Wonderful Town, out of respect to his mentor, the famous BSO music director Sergei Koussevitzky. Only after his death, did he return to Broadway, doing West Side Story, his greatest sucess.

 

How do you mean this was "out of respect"? Did Koussevitzky hate musicals?

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31 minutes ago, TownerFan said:

Daddy-O seems to be influenced more by the jazzy sound of "the other Bernstein" (Elmer). I'm sure JW always had Lenny in high esteem. I mean, he was a towering figure since the early 1950s for any musician.

 

I always found some Lenny-inspired moments in JW's early concert piece "Prelude and Fugue", btw.

 

Yeah, but there's something about the pulsating, wrangly brass harmonies of the opening theme from DADDY-O that reminds me a bit of ON THE WATERFRONT. Just a few moments; the rest of the score is pure jazz/rockabilly etc.

 

I think Williams is as perfect match for this as Elfman was for adapting Herrmann's PSYCHO (say what you will of the film, Elfman's version remains my FAVOURITE recording of the score; even moreso than Herrmann's own album).

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35 minutes ago, Thor said:

I think Williams is as perfect match for this as Elfman was for adapting Herrmann's PSYCHO (say what you will of the film, Elfman's version remains my FAVOURITE recording of the score; even moreso than Herrmann's own album).

 

Regarding Psycho, I find Herrmann's re-recording slow and dull. However, his original recording, which to date has only been issued in foul sound, is way more energetic and interesting. The McNeely re-recording comes close to capturing that energy, but it's not quite there. Apparently, Herrmann's widow is sitting on the master tapes.

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