From “West Side Story”

Composer: Leonard Bernstein

Arranged: Michael Sweeney

Composition Notes

Leonard – or 'Lenny' – Bernstein was an American composer, conductor and pianist who had a long and varied musical career. When he was very young, Bernstein first heard someone playing a piano and he was captivated immediately. He decided he wanted to learn the piano too, and started to have lessons on his aunt’s old hand-me-down instrument. He went on to have a musical a career spanning over fifty years.

One of his most popular works is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy 'Romeo and Juliet' into a New York gang warfare setting, full of passion and jealous rivalries – a musical you may have heard of: 'West Side Story'. The 'Mambo' comes from this high-energy musical. It’s a fast-paced, Cuban-inspired dance that’s guaranteed to make you want to move… which is exactly what Bernstein wanted. For him, music wasn’t about writing or reading notes on a page, but instead about how it made you feel physically.

Listen out for: The percussion. Bernstein loved rhythm, and you can hear that influence in 'Mambo'. It’s certainly a piece that jumps!

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