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Best Broadway Musical Scores


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If Bernstein's classical pieces were on that level, he'd have been a Mahler or something.

You just said that to get a rise out of me. :P

 

Other than that, I agree.

 

I will add Guys and Dolls to the list. Will have to think about others.

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Many years ago I had a sort of mild argument with a friend over dinner. I said that if Leonard Bernstein's classical scores were as good as his pop ones, he'd have been one of the greatest classical

Surprised by the votes for Sweeney Todd. It's high quality, of course, but I can't think of passages which elevate it to West Side Story level, or the best of Rodgers & Hammerstein.

Rodgers and Hart. I think George Gershwin was a better composer than Rodgers -- but Ira Gershwin was nowhere near as good a lyricist as Hart.

In an interview, Andrew Lloyd_Weber described his tool box of sounds scraps snips and remembered works from others.

 

One of the only fun things to do at a Lloyd-Webber show is spot where he stole the tunes from. Sunset Boulevard is almost all Anthony Newley, for example.

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Depends what you're looking for. Hart was ingenious, but he can't rival Hammerstein when it comes to rock solid, universally recognized standards. (And how about Irving Berlin?)

 

I'm not saying Hammerstein is better, just that it depends on your criteria.

 

Similarly for scores. We all have personal favorites, but what are the criteria for impersonal ranking? I think one reason West Side Story contends for first place, regardless of personal preference, is the extraordinary number of "hit" songs in the score. By "hit" I mean songs which are widely recognized and praised independently of their place in the musical.

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Yes, I think Berlin might well be the winner.

 

Personally, I have soft spots for Carousel, Company, Sunday in the Park, among many others. But I can see why West Side Story is superior (musically, at least).

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I realized many people would select West Side Story. Having seen the original Broadway production and the movie, IMO, the movie was far superior.

 

There were some numbers that were excellent - Look at that Pretty Girl, Tonight. But it also contained some of the worst lyrics as well. "When you're a jet you're a jet from your first cigarette to your last dying breath." Really??? Always was a Bernstein fan. Sondheim, not so much

 

And the book was totally without merit. Final scene where instead of attempting to get help for her dying boyfriend, she just sings at him to death. Really????

 

But it did star Chita Rivera - a huge plus. It would certainly make my top ten, but IMO too many flaws for a top five inclusion.

 

If judgment is by songs that became top hits then My Fair Lady is the winner hands down. I believe six songs became standards. Lerner and Loewe weren't one of greatest tandems, but for that "one shining moment" they captured it all. With apologies to Camelot, which had the greatest ensemble ever on a Broadway stage at one time - Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, Robert Goulet and Roddy McDowell.

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And the book was totally without merit. Final scene where instead of attempting to get help for her dying boyfriend, she just sings at him to death. Really????

You've never been to an opera?

 

 

Never mind opera, I think if there's any fault with the book, the problem is Shakespeare's.

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I do count eight from My Fair Lady, seven or eight from West Side Story. But there's nothing in My Fair Lady to touch "America" or "Tonight."

 

West Side Story, of course, is bad Sondheim. Which means bad Sondheim is better than the best of all but half a dozen other Broadway lyricists.

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