Maestro Of Many

April 1, 2024
Samuel Mishkin

Montevideo, Uruguay

Class of 2026

Read more from this author →

I recently watched Maestro, the Leonard Bernstein biopic, which came out last September, and it has made me think about the long tradition of Jewish composers across genres. I thought I would take the chance to look at some of the most famous Jewish musicians and composers of the last century.

Musical theater

Having written the music for ‘West Side Story’ and other musicals, Leonard Berstein was in good company. Many of the biggest names in musical theater are Jewish. Steven Sondheim, lyricist of ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Gypsy’; Rodgers and Hammerstein, who wrote ‘Oklahoma’ and ‘The Sound of Music’; Lerner and Loewe, who wrote ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘Camelot’; John Kander, who composed for ‘Chicago’, ‘Cabaret’ and ‘New York, New York’; and many more.

Film Scores

Leonard Berstein also composed a score for the film ‘On the Waterfront’, but there are other much more prolific Jewish film score composers: Bernard Hermann, composer for ‘North by Northwest’, ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘Psycho’; Max Steiner, composer for ‘King Kong’, ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Gone with the Wind’; Danny Elfman, composer for ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and ‘Batman’; James Horner, composed the scores for ‘Titanic’, ‘Avatar’, ‘Apollo 13’, ‘Jumanji’, ‘The Karate Kid’, and many more.

More Composers

Other famous Jewish composers include George Gershwin, composer of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’; Aaron Copland, composer of ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’; Irving Berlin, who wrote ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ and ‘G-d Bless America’’; Gustav Mahler, known for his many symphonies; etc.

As Jewish people, music has always been an important part of our worship and our culture, and we have certainly left our mark on the world of music.

Samuel Mishkin is an Aleph from Montevideo, Uruguay and he's lived in 6 different countries.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

Explore More Stories

Get The Shofar blasted to your inbox