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Bernstein: Suite from “On the Waterfront”

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: a “contender” of a film score…

Although his career embraced podium, concert hall, popular music and teaching, Leonard Bernstein only wrote one original film score. The film, Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront,” was a biting examination of union corruption and personal conscience—intended by Kazan as an artistic self-defense for naming names for the McCarthy commission. Bernstein’s score has both lyrical sweep and rough film-noir edges, displaying his interest in both classical and popular traditions. While Bernstein’s score was nominated for an Academy Award, the real star of the show was a young Marlon Brando. Brando’s performance, with the famous line “I coulda been someone. I coulda been a contender,” marked a memorable point in his rising career, earning him his first Oscar win.

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