Leonard Bernstein was not only a successful musical theatre composer, but also a pianist, lecturer, lifelong humanitarian, and internationally known conductor. He won 11 Emmy Awards, one Tony Award, 17 Grammys, and the Kennedy Center Honor. Here’s a full list of the legendary musicals by Leonard Bernstein, sorted chronologically.
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Musicals by Leonard Bernstein
Music: Leonard Bernstein Lyrics/Book: Betty Comden, Adolph Green
Musical Type: Golden Age (1944)
On the Town premiered on Broadway in 1944 and resonated so much with audiences that a film adaptation quickly followed. The show’s popularity continued with several major revivals over the following years.
Music/Lyrics: Leonard Bernstein
Musical Type: Golden Age (1950)
Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan is not a widely-known musical and is not to be confused with the popular 1954 Broadway production. The initial production of Bernstein’s Peter Pan only featured five songs, but a full album’s worth of material was uncovered and restored after his death.
Music: Leonard Bernstein Lyrics: Betty Comden, Adolph Green Book: Fields, Chodorov
Musical Type: Golden Age (1953)
Wonderful Town was a huge success for Leonard Bernstein and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. There were also a handful of major revivals of the show over the following few decades.
Music/Lyrics/Book: Bernstein, Wilber, Latouche, Parker, Hellman, Sondheim, Wheeler
Musical Type: Golden Age/Operetta (1956)
Based on the 1759 novella, Candide initially opened to underwhelmed audiences. However, the operetta’s popularity ended up growing over the years.
Music: Leonard Bernstein Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Book: Arthur Laurents
Musical Type: Golden Age (1957)
West Side Story was one of Bernstein’s biggest successes with six Tony Award nominations and an initial run of 732 performances. This was also Stephen Sondheim’s debut as lyricist. The musical continues to be incredibly popular to this day with seemingly non-stop revivals.
Music: Leonard Bernstein Lyrics/Book: Alan Jay Lerner
Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1976)
Unfortunately, Leonard Bernstein’s last Broadway show turned out to be a legendary flop. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ran for just seven performances, but a concert version of the score (A White House Cantata) was later recorded after his death.
Additional Work by Bernstein
1943: A Cycle of 5 Kid Songs➝
1979: “Piccola Serenata”➝
1983: A Quiet Place (opera)➝
1988: “Arias and Barcarolles”➝
1988: “My Twelve Tone Melody”➝ (in honor of Irving Berlin’s 100th)
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Which of these musicals by Leonard Bernstein is your favorite?
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Author: Stacy Karyn
Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theatre, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.