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Leonard Bernstein

August 25, 1918 - October 14, 1990
born in Lawrence, MA, composed during the Contemporary period
As composer, conductor, and educator, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) emerged as one of a handful of figures in the twentieth century who truly changed the face of music. As a composer, Bernstein left a far-reaching legacy that includes three symphonies, a film score of singular distinction, (On the Waterfront), and an important body of stage works, including one of the cornerstones of American musical theater, West Side Story (1957). The first American-born conductor to attain international superstardom, Bernstein made a profound impression on audiences; his podium manner was dynamic, even flamboyant, to an extent never before witnessed. Bernstein's extroverted manner attracted much criticism from those who dismissed him as a mere exhibitionist; his advocates, however, far outnumbered his detractors.

Born in Lawrence, MA, Bernstein made his mark first as a composer. He attended Harvard University, where he studied with Walter Piston among other distinguished figures. Occasionally he wrote popular songs on the side using the pseudonym Lenny Amber ("amber" being the English translation of the word "Bernstein"). His works of the 1940s, both weighty and light, brought him considerable acclaim; the single year of 1944 saw the premieres of two especially well-received scores, the Symphony No. 1, "Jeremiah", and the ballet Fancy Free. During his sometimes rocky tenure (1958-1969) as music director of the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein brought that ensemble to a new level of prestige and popularity: every Bernstein concert and recording became a much-anticipated event. Through his association with the New York Philharmonic and a neverending stream of guest engagements worldwide, Bernstein became particularly renowned as an interpreter of Mahler and Copland; he did much to carve out the prominent place in the orchestral concert repertory that both composers now maintain. Already well-known by the time he took over the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein became truly famous in 1958, with the first of his series of televised Young People's Concerts, fondly remembered by many as their introduction to the world of classical music. Among the first group of students to receive training at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, Bernstein soon became the institution's guiding light, serving as teacher and mentor for generations of musicians. Though he remained a giant of the podium until the very end, Bernstein curtailed his conducting activities in later years in order to spend more time composing. Little of Bernstein's music from the 1970s on has attained the same level of popularity achieved by his earlier works; still, it comprises a distinguished, substantial body of work that includes Mass (1971), the opera A Quiet Place (1983), and the song cycle Arias and Barcarolles (1988). ~ Rovi Staff, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Bernstein: West Side Story

Title: West Side Story, Musical
x

Track List: Bernstein Conducts Candide

Disc 1
Title: Candide, operetta in 2 acts (Scottish opera or final revised version)
Disc 2
x

Track List: Bernstein Conducts Bernstein

Disc 1
Title: Dance Episodes (3) From "On The Town", For Orchestra
Title: Fancy Free, Ballet
Title: Facsimile, Choreographic Essay, For Orchestra (from The Ballet)
Disc 2
Title: Overture To Candide, For Orchestra
Title: Symphonic Dances (9) From "West Side Story", For Orchestra (Orchestrated With Ramin & Kostal)
Title: On The Waterfront, Symphonic Suite
Title: Prelude, Fugue & Riffs, For Clarinet & Jazz Ensemble
Disc 3
Title: Symphony No.1 ("Jeremiah"), For Mezzo-soprano & Orchestra
Title: Symphony No.2 ("The Age Of Anxiety"), For Piano & Orchestra Or 2 Pianos
Disc 4
Title: Chichester Psalms, For Boy Soloist, Chorus & Orchestra
Title: Symphony No. 3 ("Kaddish"), For Soprano, Speakers, Choruses & Orchestra; Also For Voices & Piano
Disc 5
Title: Divertimento, For Orchestra
Title: A Musical Toast, For Orchestra
Title: Slava! A Political Overture, For Orchestra
Title: Halil, Nocturne For Flute Solo, Piccolo, Alto Flute, Percussion & Harp; Also For Flute, Piano & Percussion
Disc 6
Title: Concerto For Orchestra (Jubilee Games), For Orchestra
Title: Dybbuk, Suite No.1, For Tenor, Bass & Orchestra
Title: Dybbuk, Suite No.2 (Eight Dances), For Orchestra
Disc 7
Title: Serenade (After Plato: Symposium), For Violin, Harp, Percussion & Strings; Also For Violin & Piano
Title: Songfest, Song Cycle For 6 Singers & Orchestra Or Piano
x

Track List: Bernstein: Candide; West Side Story; On the Waterfront; Fancy Free

Title: Overture To Candide, For Orchestra
Title: Symphonic Dances (9) From "West Side Story", For Orchestra (Orchestrated With Ramin & Kostal)
Title: On The Waterfront, Symphonic Suite
Title: Fancy Free, Ballet
x

Track List: Bernstein: Symphony No. 2; Serenade after Plato's Symposium

x

Track List: Mass

Disc 1
Title: Mass, Theatre Piece for Singers, Players & Dancers
Disc 2

Comments

I am more of a "north" story
1224012991
Amazing!!!! I love West Side Story! What a love story it is!
I aqm sure he was an influence to John Williams.
Yes, he was Jewish. Yes, he was blessed. But he was absolutly inspried!! His works overshadow any shortcomings he had.
Bernstein! What a genius he was.
Great music
animalcrzy
i just cant stop loving his his music
carolovergaa r d
MAGNIFICENT! ! !
Just love most of this guy's stuff ! West Side always takes me back to
happier days .
Selected Discography. . . no kidding!
Well, Bernstein brought even more "classical" AND "jazz" into Broadway, essentially, building on the foundation Gershwin and Berlin had previously set. Anyway, the further you go in the 1900's, the more that various musical genres have influenced each other, and lead to completely new genres... Seriously, Bernstein's Broadway music is PLENTY jazzy, latinesque and syncopated, and definitely very classy as well. He's one of the greats, for sure.
The West Side Story score is a piece you go back to several times in a lifetime and listen to the genius of Bernstein. Such passion and emotion, it took Broadway musicals to a higher level.
rmartinson
Try to find the video of the 1985 or 86 recording on PBS of rehearsals for West Side Story with Jose Carreras. The scenes of Bernstein working with Carreras; he is by turns gentle and unforgiving. It's amazing too what hard work practicing and performing is. I think it was shortly after this that Carreras found out he had throat cancer. It may have been his last performance for some time. Bernstein was an amazing artist. I don't like all of his music but he put his heart and soul into every
creativity and joy might be redundent... . . b u t whatever hat that combination wears I will gladly wear it. Bernstein helped me understand that.
dr.bone42
Ha, we're doing west side story for marching band this year; it's good!
I stayed up listening till 10:00 on MPR to this guy's music.
Leonard Bernstein created masterpieces ! He introduced an entire generation to classical music with panache'.
michna.there s a
Please play some of the tracks from West Side Story.
Bernstein inspired more interest, appreciation and enjoyment in classical music than anyone of his generation. His gifts were unique and live on in our memory. Thanks maestro.
Please play some of the original broadway score from "Candide"
particularly the overture and Glitter and Be Gay with Barbara Cook.

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