This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes
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Despite its title, the Symphonic Suite from ‘On the Waterfront’ is a beautifully integrated single-movement work, rather than a collection of short pieces. From the pulsing presto barbaro section near the opening, to the tragic strains of the dirge-like finale, this score seethes with dramatic tension. The music Bernstein wrote for Elia Kazan’s classic film – a searing drama set amid the docks and slums of postwar Hoboken, New Jersey – served only as a starting point for the Symphonic Suite. In a Berkshire Eagle article introducing the score, Bernstein noted that “the main materials of the suite undergo numerous metamorphoses, following as much as possible the chronological flow of the film itself.” Bernstein biographer Humphrey Burton notes that this technique stems from the tone poems of Liszt; moreover, “On the Waterfront can be seen as a twentieth-century equivalent of Tchaikovsky’s fantasy overture Romeo and Juliet, with the film’s principal characters, Terry and Edie, and the star-crossed lovers.”