An important, world-class film score finally on CD for the first time ever! The 1954 Columbia Pictures’ film On the Waterfront features musical giant Leonard Bernstein‘s lone movie score.  Producer Sam Spiegel asked Bernstein to write the score and the composer, who had emerged over the previous decade as one of the most well-known and respected classical musicians in America, initially declined. Flush with work—as a composer, a pianist, a teacher and, especially, a conductor—he doubted he would have time.  But after witnessing Brando’s stunning performance and seeing the power of the film, he could not resist the opportunity to add his own musical dimension to the story.

Leonard Bernstein’s magnificent music for Elia Kazan’s equally-magnificent, multi Oscar-winning film On The Waterfront – with its landmark performance by Marlon Brando – has until now been available only as an oft-perfomed, re-arranged 19-minute “classical” suite, a brief 2-minute selection on “Leonard Bernstein’s New York” album with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s plus one short segment on a 1956 Decca collection of Columbia movie themes entitled You Can’t Run Away With It. The actual original soundtrack scoring session elements have been missing for ages and were presumed lost for ever. But, incredibly, when Sony unearthed elements for their recent restoration of the film classic on Blu-ray, myriad cans of audio turned out to contain not just effects and film dialog but also the entire scoring sessions, probably being discovered for the first time in a half century. These recordings, captured on acetate discs for playback purposes during the sessions, included music not heard in the finished film! Recorded at Columbia Pictures’ own scoring stage at the end of April 1954, with vintage audio and surface noise in abundance, these none-the-less priceless recordings at last reveal the entire score in all of its magnificence. While some nominal restoration was necessarily performed during mastering, Intrada took pains to retain the integrity of the original recordings, avoiding attempts to engage excessive noise reduction (which would damage the upper range, string sonorities and harmonics) or otherwise sonically compromise this important piece of musical history. Several authors have written about Bernstein’s lone original film score, including text by the composer himself. The architecture is worthy of the great symphonies, the harmonic vernacular still profound today. The potent violence music, the dramatic ideas, the memorable love theme and all their collective variants are here, including the actual soundtrack performance of the music for the legendary “cab” scene which Bernstein completely dropped from his concert suite. Deserving particular spotlighting is the main theme and how it appears: In an incredibly stark and unusual beginning device, one French horn plays the theme without introduction, without accompaniment. Soon woodwinds, then straight-mute trumpets enter. It’s subtle and profound. Then the melody disappears for nearly the entire score (!), finally emerging on a single trumpet late during “Dead Pigeons”, prior to the final fight scene. Equally profound, subtle scoring. Then, for his actual finish, Bernstein goes to the other extreme, bringing the entire orchestra into a triumphant, fortissimo climax on the theme worthy of Brando’s famous “walk”, massive chords pounding, multiple tympani, tam tam & gong crashing. Note also a solo trumpet crying out alone with the love theme high above the rest of the orchestra which instead shouts out the main theme in powerhouse fashion. A brilliant melding of two memorable melodies into one! Film music doesn’t get any better than this. As “extras”, our CD also offers a rejected take of the main title with trumpets using cup mutes (a warmer sound) as well as the premiere of “The Accident” that was also dropped from the picture. Yet another treat is hearing a surging, powerful full strings treatment of the main theme following the aforementioned “Dead Pigeons” quote. It too was completely dropped from the film but arranged into Bernstein’s concert suite. Listeners who thought it was exclusive to the suite will be delirious to discover it’s all here! Morris Stoloff conducts the Columbia Pictures Orchestra. Bernstein himself is one of the session pianists. Classic music from a classic film
In Leonard Bernstein’s On The Waterfront: A Film Score Guide, musicologist Anthony Bushard identifies and labels five major themes: Dignity, Love, Violence, Pain and Riot. Bernstein’s Dignity theme mirrors the conflict and resolution of the film’s story arc.  Bernstein introduces the Love theme, featuring an achingly lovely contour, serving as a reminder that the composer was, at heart, a master melodist. The Violence theme reflects the brutality of the men who control life on the docks with harsh, dissonant, fortissimo chords, dizzying syncopations and pounding, asymmetrical rhythms.  The Pain theme first appears superimposed over the Violence theme, Bernstein giving it a particularly modern and urban sensibility by introducing it on alto saxophone.  And lastely, the Riot theme  overlays a buzzing string ostinato with sharply accented chords in brass and woodwinds. While the poetry of Bernstein’s work is palpable, its underlying architecture is no less masterful, interrelating all the themes.

The Oscar-nominated score has only previously been available as a rerecording in suite form.  For this premiere release of the original tracks, Intrada was provided with all the tracks stored at Sony Pictures and thus commenced the restoration effort.  The bulk of this release is sourced from acetate transfers of the sessions, preserving almost every cue, including material not heard in the finished film. To supplement those near complete disc transfers, Sony also located the music-only stems, allowing Intrada to include every other musical sequence not present on the acetates—primarily the source music cues from reel five, set in the saloon.


01. On The Waterfront – Main Title (Revised) (3:26)
02. Roof Morning (1:03)
03. Scramble (1:18)
04. Riot In Church (1:57)
05. Glove Scene (1:45)
06. Glove Scene – Coda (0:54)
07. Pigeons And Beer (2:37)
08. Saloon Love (1:39)
09. Waterfront Love Theme (1:33)
10. Blue Goon Blues (2:28)
11. After Sermon (1:12)
12. Roof 3 (1:35)
13. Confession Scene (1:15)
14. Kangaroo Court (0:34)
15. Cab And Bedroom (3:59)

16. Charley’s Death (4:21)
17. Throwing The Gun (1:11)
18. Dead Pigeons (4:35)
19. The Challenge And The Fight (3:38)
20. Walk And End Title (4:09)
Total Time: 45:55

The Extras
21. On The Waterfront – Main Title (1:28)
22. The Accident (1:59)
23. “Gott Lebet Noch” – Organ
(J. S. Bach, Arr. L. Bernstein) (0:35)
24. Blue Goon Blues – Whistle (0:11)
Total Extras Time: 4:18