Intrada: ON THE WATERFRONT [1954-2014] - Leonard Bernstein


The 1954 Columbia Pictures' film On the Waterfront features musical giant Leonard Bernstein's lone movie score.  Producer Sam Spiegel asked Bernstein to write the score and the composer, who had emerged over the previous decade as one of the most well-known and respected classical musicians in America, initially declined. Flush with work—as a composer, a pianist, a teacher and, especially, a conductor—he doubted he would have time.  But after witnessing Brando's stunning performance and seeing the power of the film, he could not resist the opportunity to add his own musical dimension to the story.

In Leonard Bernstein’s On The Waterfront: A Film Score Guide, musicologist Anthony Bushard identifies and labels five major themes: Dignity, Love, Violence, Pain and Riot. Bernstein’s Dignity theme mirrors the conflict and resolution of the film’s story arc.  Bernstein introduces the Love theme, featuring an achingly lovely contour, serving as a reminder that the composer was, at heart, a master melodist. The Violence theme reflects the brutality of the men who control life on the docks with harsh, dissonant, fortissimo chords, dizzying syncopations and pounding, asymmetrical rhythms.  The Pain theme first appears superimposed over the Violence theme, Bernstein giving it a particularly modern and urban sensibility by introducing it on alto saxophone.  And lastely, the Riot theme  overlays a buzzing string ostinato with sharply accented chords in brass and woodwinds. While the poetry of Bernstein’s work is palpable, its underlying architecture is no less masterful, interrelating all the themes.

The Oscar-nominated score has only previously been available as a rerecording in suite form.  For this premiere release of the original tracks, Intrada was provided with all the tracks stored at Sony Pictures and thus commenced the restoration effort.  The bulk of this release is sourced from acetate transfers of the sessions, preserving almost every cue, including material not heard in the finished film. To supplement those near complete disc transfers, Sony also located the music-only stems, allowing Intrada to include every other musical sequence not present on the acetates—primarily the source music cues from reel five, set in the saloon.

In the film, Marlon Brando plays the reluctant antihero Terry Malloy , a former boxer in his late twenties, now a longshoreman. His elder brother, Charley (Rod Steiger), helps mob technical connected union boss Johnny Friendly (Cobb) control the dockworkers’ local. Terry is shaken at the beginning of the film when Friendly dupes him into being an unwitting accomplice to the murder of a fellow worker, Joey Doyle, who had been about to talk to the Waterfront Crime Commission.

INTRADA MAF 7141
For track listing and sound samples, please visit:
Edie: Which side are you with? [click here]....
Terry: Me? I'm with me, Terry.
 
Just Announced, It doesn't get any better than this!
Jeremy [Howlin' Wolf]

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