Leonard Bernstein and the language of jazz

Publication Type:



Urbana : University of Illinois Press,, United States, p.1 online resource. (2019)

Call Number:



20th century, History and criticism., Jazz, Music


Includes bibliographical references (pages 247-257) and index.Bernstein's philosophy and the language of jazz -- Trading fours : Bernstein, Copland, Gershwin, and jazz -- A jazz-shaped America : swing styles in Fancy Free and On the Town -- Jazz as a rhetoric of conflict in Symphony numbers 2 : The Age of Anxiety -- West Side Story, modern jazz, and the musical commitment -- "Red, white and blues" : Bernstein's blues and the American soul -- Conclusion.Description based on print version record.For Leonard Bernstein, music was a language capable of communicating more directly than in words, and jazz was a crucial part of his musical vocabulary. As an idiom made up of a range of styles - whether stride, boogie-woogie, swing, bebop, or cool - jazz was central to Bernstein's compositional aesthetic, particularly in his approach to tonality and to defining American music. The blues, as a special part of this jazz idiom, also helped Bernstein articulate a personal identity, expressing everything from sensuality to humor to loss and isolation. This text will examine the shifting meanings of Bernstein's jazz language in theatrical and symphonic works from across his career.