07. July 2007 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramble

I was reading a review of the New York Phil’s 4th of July concert, and I came across this sentence: “I might mention, too, that their snapping was as off as their pizzicatos can be.”

I was surprised, because as far as I knew Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story” didn’t have any snapping. I had even read or heard somewhere that Bernstein didn’t like the snapping that was added to the movie in one section. But that could be a silly tale, who knows? So I did a little search on West Side Story, Bernstein and snapping and landed here. It’s a bit of a fun read. And I ran across this paragraph:

In Washington the program credits read “Lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.” “I can see you’re upset,” Sondheim remembers Bernstein saying to him as they drove back to their hotel from the day’s rehearsal. “The lyrics are yours an you should have sole credit and I will arrange that.” Sondheim thanked him. “And we’ll make the financial adjustment too,” Bernstein went on. “Oh, don’t bother about that,” said the grateful Sondheim. “After all, it’s only the credit that matters.” When Sondheim told the story later, he would ruefully add: “I’m sorry I opened my mouth.”

Yeah, I’ll bet Sondheim regrets that one, although I’m guessing he doesn’t exactly hurt for money.

I have always loved playing the Symphony Dances, but I will confess that I hate yelling out “Mambo!” (I can’t remember if that is written in our parts or if it’s just tradition that we do that, but we do.) It’s funny, but speaking is so different from playing for me. I’ve put on poetry readings and while I do get nervous (more nervous than for playing) I get in “speaking mode” and can deal. But saying something while being an oboist or English hornist? Nope. No can do. I’m not sure why. The brass players are usually the ones who have no problem yelling out “Mambo!” with gusto. Go figure.

UPDATE: My friend DK tells me that yes, the snaps are written. Maybe just not in my part (?). She says they are in the “cool” section. I think I had heard that Bernstein didn’t like that they were added during the social dance section, when Maria and Tony first meet. But as I said, I could be wrong. (There’s a particular blogger who loves to point out when I’m wrong, though, and he hasn’t written!)


  1. I always shout “Mambo!” from the audience. Sometimes I get weird looks, but for the most part people enjoy it. I think.

  2. That’s pretty funny, Mike! Maybe you should sit next to me onstage and be my “voice”. Ya think? 🙂