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Old 07-30-2009, 03:44 PM
rowrrbazzle's Avatar
rowrrbazzle is offline
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Chicago
Posts: 8,728
Sometime in the past year I realized something about "West Side Story". The notes for the word "Maria" in the song of that name, C-F#-G, are the same notes as on the phrase "Who knows?" in "Something's Coming" with the last two notes in a lower octave. In addition, the opening 3 notes of the musical, G-C-F#, are the same, just starting on the G instead of the C.

I thought this should've been noticed before, so I Googled a bit before posting this, and it had. I also found the original concept of the musical was for a Jewish girl and a Catholic Italian-American boy, with the anti-Semitism of the Catholics as a source of conflict. They eventually rejected this because the subject had already been explored in "Abie's Irish Rose" and similar productions.

I also came across this page, which contains a letter that reports Bernstein claimed the whole musical was based around the G-C-F# notes. The letter also claims that those notes are a remnant of the Jewish/Catholic concept because that's one of the soundings of the shofar on Jewish New Year! I did find one shofar rendition on YouTube that was closer to C-F#-G.

From the letter: "The overture is vivid tone-painting of terrifying Jew-baiting, for example, subjecting this shofar theme to being mocked and chased by the other instruments."

Last edited by rowrrbazzle; 07-30-2009 at 03:45 PM.