The Music of Broadway Through Time

Zaina Moussa and Geuel Simiyu

Central Question

  • How does different Broadway music throughout time reflect the different events in American history?

  • We thought the music of Broadway would be an interesting thing to research because its popularity with the American public reflects the evolution of culture in each time period.


  • Broadway theatre was founded in the early 1900s as a center of music, drama, and art. It is located in New York’s Times Square.
  • Broadway is made up of multiple theatres that are divided into three categories: Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway.
  • Often times, Broadway plays remind the American people of past events and hardships.
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If I Were A Rich Man

  • From play "Fiddler on the roof"
  • Set in the 1905 to portray the many hardships of immigrants
  • (Start at 2:30)
Fiddler on the roof - If I were a rich man (with subtitles)

Brother Can You Spare A Dime?

  • From the play "Americana"
  • Focuses on the Great Depression of the 1930s
  • Uses the minor key to portray the mood of American citizens during the depression
Bing Crosby - Brother Can You Spare A Dime? 1932

Sixteen Going On Seventeen

  • (0:29-1:35)
  • From the play "The Sound of Music"
  • Set in Austria during the WWII era
  • The song focuses on what society saw us women in general
Sixteen Going On Seventeen

I Know Where I've Been

  • From the musical "Hairspray"
  • Set in the 60s
  • Reminds the audience of the fight for equality in all aspects of life, including entertainment.
I Know Were I've Been

Hakuna Matata

  • (0-:25)
  • From the play "The Lion King"
  • Includes elements from Swahili culture
  • reflects the increasing diversity of American culture
The Lion King - Hakuna Matata (HD)

No One Mourns the Wicked

  • Play at 2:30
  • From the play "Wicked"
  • Contemporary Broadway musical
  • This reinvention of another side of the story reflects the current demand for a new point of view.
  • This is because of an emergence/reemergence of civil rights movements for those previously not acknowledged such as the gay community and the feminist movement
No one mourns the wicked