Scribes and songsmiths
Broadway hadn’t heard anything this good and this American since George Gershwin, and Bernstein’s larger-than-life persona made the composer/conductor a media darling who introduced classical music to the masses. Between 1944 and 1957 Bernstein wrote four musicals that became classics: “On the Town,” “Wonderful Town,” “Candide” and “West Side Story,” which delivers everything from ballets and arias to comedy. Whatever its problems, the short-lived “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” Bernstein’s fifth and final work for Broadway, in 1976, showcased a remarkable score that deserves to be revisited. He died in1990.