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Indulge in a spot of musical tourism to New York City and in particular Manhattan, which has inspired great classical music since the early years of the 20th century.
Ives’ composition aimed to evoke ‘the sounds of nature and of happenings that men would hear…when sitting on a bench in Central Park on a hot summer night.' Layers of orchestral textures on top of each other suggest the music of the city drifting in and out of earshot, including popular tunes, ragtime piano and the ‘Washington Post’ march played by a street band.
Gershwin’s less well known follow-up to ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ began as music for the film ‘Delicious’ accompanying a montage of a character wandering the streets of New York. Initially titled ‘Manhattan Rhapsody’, the piece later became known as ‘New York Rhapsody’, then ‘Rhapsody In Rivets’ and finally, ‘Second Rhapsody’.
Richard Rodgers' ballet is the story of a tap dancer who falls in love with a dance hall girl who is then shot and killed by her jealous boyfriend. The dancer then shoots the boyfriend. Cheery stuff. The piece entered the repertoire of the New York City Ballet in 1968.
Bernstein's ballet score is set in a New York City bar and the street outside during wartime. It follows the amorous exploits of three sailors visiting the city on shore leave. A portion of Bernstein’s music was also put to use in the opening scenes of Alfred Hitchcock's thriller, ‘Rear Window’.
Copland’s composition for trumpet, cor anglais, and string orchestra was originally written as incidental music for a play by Irwin Shaw. Copland wanted to mirror the main character who abandons his religion and aspirations to pursue material success, marrying a rich socialite, and becoming the president of a department store. The man’s conscience however was troubled every time he heard the sound of his brother's trumpet playing.
Duke Ellington's first major work that was originally intended for performance by a symphony orchestra was inspired by the Manhattan neighbourhood. The band leader had just completed a European tour, and on the return Atlantic voyage, he had time to turn his attention to this new piece. He recorded it in 1954, and the next year it was performed at Carnegie Hall with the 'Symphony of the Air'.
Marlon Brando's classic film was based on a series of articles in the 'New York Sun' that won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. The stories detailed widespread corruption, extortion and racketeering on the waterfronts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Leonard Bernstein wrote his only original film score for this hugely successful film.
Inspired by William Shakespeare's ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Bernstein's ground-breaking masterpiece of musical theatre is set in New York's Upper West Side neighborhood where rival gangs battle to control the streets. The serious theme focusing on social problems, the sophisticated music and dance episodes marked a turning point in American musical theatre.
This epic crime drama saw composer Morricone reuniting with the father of the Spaghetti Western, Sergio Leone. Robert De Niro and James Woods played the gangsters who rise to prominence in New York City's world of organized crime. Harmonicas, vocalising and whistling appear in Morricone's nostalgic, lushly romantic BAFTA-winning score.
Reich’s minimalist piece incorporates a wide variety of speech samples and New York sounds including car horns, doors slamming and the Metro. The last movement uses samples of field communications from the New York Fire Department during the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.