West Side Story Composer Leonard Bernstein “Wasn’t Crazy About The Movie,” His Daughter Reveals

The legendary songwriter behind West Side Story ended up resenting his success – and he didn’t like the Oscar-winning film adaptation either, his daughter revealed.

Jamie Bernstein, the eldest daughter of Leonard Bernstein, who wrote the iconic musical in the 1950s, said he had become frustrated with the phenomenon and had to work harder for his other works to stand out.

It comes as Steven Spielberg’s new adaptation of the Romeo and Juliet-inspired classic, set in New York City, is slated for release next month.

“It has become a kind of albatross around its neck,” said Bernstein Radio schedules.

“He had to work that much harder to get people to focus on his other works, especially his symphonic works.

“He mentioned it every now and then, it was a frustration.”

“But you can’t really complain about a gigantic success,” she added.

Jamie Bernstein, the eldest daughter of Leonard Bernstein (pictured), who created West Side Story in the 1950s, said he was frustrated with the phenomenon and had to work harder to get his other works to stand out .

The musical follows cursed lovers Tony and Maria, who fall in love on the streets of New York City despite being part of rival gangs (Pictured: Tony and Maria played by Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood in the 1961 Oscar-winning film adaptation )

The musical follows cursed lovers Tony and Maria, who fall in love on the streets of New York City despite being part of rival gangs (Pictured: Tony and Maria played by Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood in the 1961 Oscar-winning film adaptation )

The musical follows doomed lovers Tony and Maria, who fall in love on the streets of New York despite their membership in rival gangs, the Jets, made up of whites, and the Sharks, whose members are originally from Puerto Rico.

While the initial Broadway production was a success in its own right, the 1961 film adaptation starring Natalie Wood and RIchard Beymer sent her into the stratosphere, winning a total of 10 Oscars.

But Mr. Bernstein wasn’t much of a fan, his daughter Jamie revealed.

“My dad wasn’t crazy about the movie,” Bernstein said.

“He thought there were deficits and he wasn’t entirely happy with the music. Johnny green [the musical director] created the whole prologue, my dad didn’t write that.

“He wasn’t happy but he didn’t say anything because he felt he had no right to complain.

“He abdicated from being in full control and on the scene while they were shooting the movie. He was busy doing the rest of his life.

Bernstein said the Spielberg version of the film, starring Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler as Tony and Maria, is “completely fabulous.”

She was sanctioned by herself and her two siblings Alexander and Nina, among other “living representatives”.

The film suffered several delays but is ultimately written for a December 10 release.

The Jets gang as portrayed in the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story - which won a total of 10 Oscars

The Jets gang as portrayed in the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story – which won a total of 10 Oscars

A confrontation scene between the Sharks (left) and the Jets (right) in the 1961 film adaptation

A confrontation scene between the Sharks (left) and the Jets (right) in the 1961 film adaptation

And this time around Puerto Rican actors were used to play as members of the Sharks, making the film less “problematic”.

Bernstein said, “They found all these little ways to make it deeper, to make each character more resonant and connection with the story.

“Another huge improvement is that sharks and all of their relatives are in fact [played by Latinos].

“That wasn’t the case in the first movie, and the particular orange makeup that everyone had to wear was very problematic. With all of that gone, he has a much more gritty authenticity.

She added: “You can’t expect the music to sound better, considering this is the New York Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.”

Leonard Bernstein died at the age of 72 in 1990.

To this day, the former frontman of the New York Philharmonic, who was also a talented pianist, remains one of the most successful American musicians of all time.


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