Wonderful Town : Work information

Leonard Bernstein ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Ron Raines (Voice), Rebecca Luker (Voice), Karen Mason (Voice), National Symphony Orchestra, John Owen Edwards (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Wonderful Town
Work number
1953-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

JAY Records
John Yap
Recording date

The Composers

Leonard Bernstein

Born in Lawrence, Massachussetts, Leonard Bernstein studied piano and composition at Harvard University before enroling at the Curtis Institute in 1939.  However it was at Tanglewood summer school that he was to meet one of his most significant influences, conductor Serge Koussevitsky.  From 1942 on he acted as Koussevitsky's assistant, and by this time conducting had become a focus for his driving ambition.  After replacing an indisposed Bruno Walter at short notice, Bernstein's conducting career took off, with engagements in Boston and Philadelphia leading to offers from around the world.

A parallel career as a composer was cemented by the performance of his First Symphony (Jeremiah) in 1944, along with the ballet Fancy Free, the first of many stage works.  Bernstein used the same scenario of sailors on shore leave for his first Broadway show, On the Town, which ran for 463 performances.  In 1957 Bernstein's West Side Story hit the stage, and the ensuing film made it his most popular work.  Its blending of new musical techniques with popular and jazz stylings mirrored both the efforts of "Third Stream" composers and jazz artists such as Miles Davis.

Bernstein was a great musical educator, giving many televised lectures structured to appeal to the younger generation, and promoting much work by new composers.  He also returned to Tanglewood summer school to encourage new talent.  In addition he was commited to reviving the music of Gustav Mahler, whose mix of sincerity and irony he was ideally suited to conducting. 

After the wild successes of the previous decades, Bernstein's later years provided fewer satisfying compositions.  However, his conducting career continued up to his death in 1990, giving concerts in Berlin the previous year to mark the fall of the Berlin wall. 

Related composers: Aaron Copland, George Gershwin

Track listing

  • Overture 5:11 min
  • Christopher Street 6:26 min
  • Ohio 3:41 min
  • Conquering The City 4:26 min
  • One Hundred Easy Ways 3:20 min
  • What A Waste 4:15 min
  • Ruth's Stories 6:15 min
  • A Little Bit In Love 3:10 min
  • Pass The Football 5:42 min
  • Conversation Piece 4:27 min
  • A Quiet Girl 4:47 min
  • Quiet Ruth 1:50 min
  • Conga! 5:33 min
  • Entr'acte 3:46 min
  • My Darlin' Eileen 3:58 min
  • Swing! 6:58 min
  • Ohio (reprise) 2:17 min
  • Swing! (Orchestral Reprise) 1:44 min
  • It's Love 3:06 min
  • Ballet At The Village Vortex 2:21 min
  • Wrong Note Rag 2:35 min
  • Finale Act Two 1:11 min
  • Exit Music 3:32 min
  • A Little Bit In Love (Full Version) 2:46 min
  • Christopher Street 5:53 min


Leonard Bernstein created three masterworks for Broadway that were set in New York City. WEST SIDE STORY, ON THE TOWN and WONDERFUL TOWN. This first complete recording of WONDERFUL TOWN joins the already acclaimed first complete recordings from JAY of WEST SIDE STORY and ON THE TOWN.

Like the other masterworks, WONDERFUL TOWN is brimmed full with the joys and vigours of Bernstein's youth, it being the first Broadway musical that Bernstein wrote when he was just a young man in his twenties. Hit and fun songs are in great evidence and the song OHIO is recognised as the great anthem to middle America. His obvious wacky sense of humour and love of jazz are perfectly captured by such songs as THE WRONG NOTE RAG and SWING. Beautiful songs are not forgotten either as demonstrated by IT'S LOVE and A LITTLE BIT IN LOVE. OHIO, IT'S LOVE and A LITTLE BIT IN LOVE have been extensively recorded by practically every recording artists since the 50s.

Three of Broadway greatest talents have been cast for this All Star Cast recording: REBECCA LUKER (currently appearing on Broadway in THE SOUND OF MUSIC), KAREN MASON (Norma on Broadway in SUNSET BOULEVARD) and RON RAINES (Alan Spaulding in TV's GUIDING LIGHT) as well as other featured stars from Broadway, GREGG EDELMAN (Tony norminated for 1776) and DON STEPHENSON (current star of TITANIC).

The recording is made with JAY's award winning team, conductor JOHN OWEN EDWARDS (currently enjoying great acclaim musical directing the Royal National Theatre's smash hit production of OKLAHOMA!), the wonderful National Symphony Orchestra and producer John Yap. As with all the other JAY Original Masterworks series, this was recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London.