BERNSTEIN, LEONARD


BERNSTEIN, LEONARD
BERNSTEIN, LEONARD (1918–1990), U.S. composer and conductor. Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Mass., and studied at Harvard (1935–39), the Curtis Institute (1939–41), and the Berkshire Music Center (summers of 1940 and 1941), where he took composition with Walter Piston among others, orchestration with Randall Thompson, and conducting with fritz reiner and serge koussevitzky . In 1943 he was appointed Artur Rodzinski's assistant at the New York Philharmonic; he attracted national attention by acquitting himself brilliantly when called upon to conduct a difficult program at short notice. In 1953 he conducted Cherubini's Medea at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan with Maria Callas – the first time an American conductor had appeared there. From 1958 to 1969 he was the music director and conductor of the N.Y. Philharmonic, the first American-born musician to occupy this post.   He also succeeded Igor Stravinsky as president of the English Bach Festival. In 1989, on the occasion of the fall of the Berlin Wall, he conducted Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with an orchestra drawn from German musicians from both East and West. In his latter years he had a close association with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Bernstein was closely associated with Israel from 1947, when he conducted for the first time in the country. After the establishment of the State of Israel he was instrumental in creating the Koussevitzky music collection at the JNUL in Jerusalem. In 1967 after the Six-Day War, he conducted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra on Mount Scopus celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem in a program including symbolic work such as Mahler's Resurrection Symphony. In 1978 the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra decided to devote its World Festival entirely to the works of Bernstein to honor the 30th anniversary of his first appearance in Israel. The Israel Philharmonic also bestowed on him the lifetime title of Laureate Conductor in 1988. Over the years he made periodic guest appearances with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, both in Israel and on its tours abroad. Bernstein was an innovator in using television to educate the audience. He produced programs for adults and children where he lectured about composers (such as Beethoven and mahler , whom he identified as the central figure of 20th-century music) and their music in a fascinating way. His lecture series started with the Omnibus program in 1954, followed by the Young People's Concerts with the N.Y. Philharmonic in 1958, which extended over 14 seasons (53 concerts). These programs, which were broadcast live and for which Bernstein would often feverishly prepare his script all through the previous night with the help of family and friends, became a centerpiece of his work, part of what he described as his educational mission. He also used the programs to introduce young performers to the musical world, among them the 16-year-old Andre Watts. Bernstein, one of the dominant musical personalities of his time, soon became a celebrity. His private life came under scrutiny and he was known for his liberal political sympathies, supporting the Black Panthers in the 1960s. As a composer-conductor, Bernstein came closer than anyone since Mahler to achieving equal eminence in both spheres. His reputation as a composer began in 1943 with the ballet Fancy Free. His musical language never abandoned tonality, although in his later works he used serial devices (in "The Pennycandy Store beyond the El"). Among his works are the Jeremiah Symphony, with a vocal solo to the Hebrew text of Lamentations (1944); The Age of Anxiety, after a poem by W.H. Auden, utilizing jazz rhythms; Kaddish (in Hebrew), oratorio for narrator, chorus, and orchestra, which he conducted for the first time in Tel Aviv in 1963; Chichester Psalms (also in Hebrew), for chorus and orchestra (1965); the ballet Dybbuk (1974); three symphonies (1942, 1949, 1963); and the music for the film On the Waterfront (1954). Bernstein contributed substantially to the Broadway musical stage. He had his greatest popular triumph with West Side Story (1957), an adaptation of the Romeo and Juliet story using youthful gang rivalry in New York City as the backdrop, which owed much of its success on both stage and screen to his dynamic music. Other shows for which he wrote the music were On the Town (1944), Wonderful Town (1953), Candide (1956), and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (1976). His Missa Solemnis (1971), about the celebration of the Mass, aroused wide comment. He also published books on music, The Joy of Music (1959), The Infinite Variety of Music (1971), and Findings / Fifty Years of Meditations on Music (1982). Among his many honors were the Kennedy Center Honor for a lifetime of contributions to American culture, the Academy of the Arts Gold Medal for music, the Sonning Prize, the Siemens Prize, the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, and 11 Emmy Awards. Festivals of Bernstein's music have been produced throughout the world, such as a Bernstein Festival in 1986 produced by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Beethoven/Bernstein Festival in 1989 produced by the city of Bonn. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Ewen, Leonard Bernstein (Eng., 1960, 1967), includes bibliography; J. Briggs, Leonard Bernstein, the Man, his Work and his World (1961); A.L. Holde, Leonard Bernstein (Ger., 1961); J. Gruen (text) and K. Heyman (phot.), The Private World of Leonard Bernstein (1968). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Grove online; MGG2; M. Cone, Leonard Bernstein (1970); J.W. Weber, Leonard Bernstein (1975), discography; J. Gottlieb, Leonard Bernstein: a Complete Catalogue of his Works (1978); I. Nerius, L. Bernstein: Ausdruck eines grossen Musikers (1978); P. Robinson, Bernstein (1982); P. Gradenwitz, Leonard Bernstein (1984; Eng. trans., 1987); J. Peyser, Bernstein, a Biography (1987); S. Chapin, L. Bernstein: Notes From a Friend (1992); M. Secrest, L. Bernstein: A Life (1994/95). (Nicolas Slonimsky / Israela Stein (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bernstein, Leonard — born Aug. 25, 1918, Lawrence, Mass., U.S. died Oct. 14, 1990, New York, N.Y. U.S. conductor, composer, and writer. He resolved on a music career only after graduating from Harvard University. He studied conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music …   Universalium

  • Bernstein, Leonard — (1918–90)    US conductor and composer. Leonard Bernstein as a conductor earned a special place in the annals of the Israel Symphony Orchestra. In 1949, he persuaded them to ride in trucks and follow the Israel army south to Beersheba, which had… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Bernstein, Leonard — ► (1918 90) Compositor, director y pianista estadounidense. Su obra evidencia la influencia del jazz y de la música popular. Entre sus obras destaca el musical West Side Story (1957). * * * (25 ago. 1918, Lawrence, Mass., EE.UU.–14 oct. 1990,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Bernstein,Leonard — Bern·stein (bûrnʹstīn , stēn ), Leonard. 1918 1990. American conductor and composer who wrote numerous choral and symphonic works, including Kaddish (1963), and musicals, notably On the Town (1944) and West Side Story (1957). * * * …   Universalium

  • Bernstein, Leonard — (1918 90)    American composer and conductor. He was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He became director and conductor of the New York Philharmonic. His many works on Jewish subjects include the symphonies Jeremiah and Kaddish …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Bernstein, Leonard (Louis) — (25 August 1918, Lawrence, Mass. – 14 October 1990, New York)    Conductor and composer of concert music and Broadway shows, he composed two symphonies employing Jewish chants sung by choruses, the Jeremiah Symphony (1943) and the Kaddish… …   Historical dictionary of sacred music

  • Leonard Bernstein — ( * [http://www.sonybmgmasterworks.com/artists/leonardbernstein/ Discography at SonyBMG Masterworks] * [http://fas www.harvard.edu/ musicdpt/bernsteinindex.htm Bernstein s Boston] , a Harvard University research project *… …   Wikipedia

  • Léonard Bernstein — Leonard Bernstein  Ne doit pas être confondu avec le compositeur américain de musique de film Elmer Bernstein Pour les articles homonymes, voir Bernstein. Leonard Bernstein …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Léonard — Leonard oder Léonard ist eine Form des Namens Leonhard. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Bekannte Namensträger 1.1 Vorname 1.2 Familienname 1.3 Künstlername // …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bernstein — Bernstein, Eduard Bernstein, Leonard * * * (as used in expressions) Bernstein, Eduard Bernstein, Leonard Morris Louis Bernstein …   Enciclopedia Universal


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