West Side Story

Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES

With Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed new movie version of West Side Story arriving at multiplexes around the world, you surely won’t have missed the buzz once again surrounding the great Bernstein/Sondheim masterpiece.

Looking for an accessible piano score, I found that there are more than 300 search results on Musicroom, narrowing down to several piano solo and duet publications. I’ve selected the “intermediate piano solo selections” version for review here, which has been around for a few years, and is linked (via Musicroom) at the end of the short review which follows…

Ten Solo Selections

This particular collection, published in the US by Boosey & Hawkes and distributed by Hal Leonard, comes as a 40-page standard music book, printed on white paper, with staple binding and a glossy cover:

Within, there are credits and contents pages at the front, the remaining 38 pages taken up by the scores to the following ten classic songs:

  • Something’s Coming
  • Cha-Cha from the Dance at the Gym
  • Maria
  • Tonight
  • America
  • Cool
  • One Hand, One Heart
  • I Feel Pretty
  • Somewhere
  • I Have a Love

So far, so good: these are absolutely the songs you would expect and hope for. But how about the arrangements?

Intermediate Piano

Well, by and large I am happy to report that they are excellent.

Ranging in length from two pages (Cha-Cha) to seven (Something’s Coming), these “intermediate” arrangements are perfect for players at around UK Grades 4-6 level. And though simplified, the musical content and signature riffs of the original songs are superbly conveyed throughout.

While a more advanced player might want to further embellish the arrangements, these scores provide a great foundation for doing so, giving them still wider appeal.

For this we can thank experienced Hal Leonard arranger Carol Klose, a superb musician and teacher with a long track list of contributions to the Hal Leonard Student Piano Library. I should note that Klose has also produced Easy Piano and Piano 4 Hands collections of the songs from West Side Story, from the same publishers.

Here, Klose has included strategic fingering and pedalling suggestions throughout, and the scores are further enhanced by clean and spacious music engraving.

Closing Thoughts

Being intermediate piano solo arrangements, it should be remembered that Sondheim’s powerful lyrics aren’t included here; those wanting a version that includes them, and is more suitable for singing along, should browse for the PVG songbook version.

But if you would like to play accessible piano versions of the great songs from this greatest of 20th century masterpieces, look no further than this superb publication.

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, published composer and author based on Milton Keynes UK.