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Leonard Bernstein
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1918-08-25
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/fa39bc82-9b27-4bbb-9425-d719a72e09ac
Leonard Bernstein Leonard Bernstein Leonard Bernstein Leonard Bernstein

Biography

Leonard Bernstein has been described as a 20th-century Renaissance man and it is true that he dared to be versatile in an age of specialisation. The first indigenous American to really challenge the global domination of musical life by Europeans, ...

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Biography

Leonard Bernstein has been described as a 20th-century Renaissance man and it is true that he dared to be versatile in an age of specialisation. The first indigenous American to really challenge the global domination of musical life by Europeans, or quasi- Europeans, he came to symbolise the optimism and can-do attitude of the American way, while representing also the flip-side of the Dream, incurably restless and variously unfulfilled. At the time of his death, his own music, especially his concert music, was generally reckoned a disappointment: its rampant eclecticism did not chime well with what Western art music was supposed to be about. Today, however, even his supposed failures are coming in from the cold. Those generously inflected Bernstein realisations, so effective in promulgating the music of his American contemporaries and that of Gustav Mahler, no longer represent a barrier to the rediscovery of his own music by a new generation of performers.

There was much that was conventional in Bernstein’s upbringing and education. Born in 1918, he studied at both Harvard and the Curtis Institute and was at various times the protégé of Dimitri Mitropoulos, Fritz Reiner and Serge Koussevitzky. Self-evidently gifted, he also had luck on his side. In 1943 he made his reputation as a conductor at a stroke when he replaced an indisposed Bruno Walter. Thereafter he was associated with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (from 1947), the Boston Symphony Orchestra and especially the New York Philharmonic (of which he was Music Director, 1958–69). Increasingly drawn to Europe, he forged a special relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic. A celebrated educator, writer, broadcaster and, in earlier years, a formidable pianist, he pursued an on-off career as a composer, like his idol Gustav Mahler, blurring the boundaries between high and popular culture in a personal mix of that composer with Copland, Stravinsky and elements drawn from Broadway and specifically Jewish traditions.

His works for commercial theatre, most notably the musicals Candide (1956) and West Side Story (1957), are currently more highly prized than his ballet Dybbuk (1974) or his most personal operatic statement, A Quiet Place (1983). His other magnum opus, the unclassifiable evening-length piece for singers, players and dancers entitled Mass (1971), continues to divide opinion. There are three symphonies but casual listeners often find most to admire in more modest concert works such as Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (1949), the Serenade (1954), a violin concerto in all but name, and the defiantly melodic Chichester Psalms (1965).

What distinguished Bernstein’s work as a composer is actually what distinguishes it from so many of the contemporary trends he latched on to, the better to throw his own meanings into relief. Whether pop, pap or post-Schoenbergian, it is the very contemporaneity of so much 20th century music that can make it seem anonymous. Trying everything as it does, reaching out for some ‘ebullient renewed will to survive the Apocalyptic’, Bernstein’s music is always cathartic and unmistakably his own.

Profile © David Gutman

Clips (12)


Tracks (49)

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Leonard Bernstein, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra & David Zinman
Symphonic dances from 'West Side story' orch. Ramin & Kostal, Mambo [Presto]
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Symphonic dances from 'West Side story' orch. Ramin & Kostal, Mambo [Presto] Symphonic dances from 'West Side story' orch. Ramin & Kostal, Mambo [Presto] Symphonic dances from 'West Side story' orch. Ramin & Kostal, Mambo [Presto] Symphonic dances from 'West Side story' orch. Ramin & Kostal, Mambo [Presto]
Leonard Bernstein, Tyne Daly, Michael Tilson Thomas & London Symphony Orchestra
I can cook - from "On the Town"
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I can cook  - from "On the Town" I can cook  - from "On the Town" I can cook  - from "On the Town" I can cook  - from "On the Town"
Leonard Bernstein, BBC Philharmonic & John Wilson
Overture: Candide
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Overture: Candide Overture: Candide Overture: Candide Overture: Candide
Lidija Bizjak, Leonard Bernstein, Sanja Bizjak & John Musto
Symphonic dances from 'West Side story'
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Symphonic dances from 'West Side story' Symphonic dances from 'West Side story' Symphonic dances from 'West Side story' Symphonic dances from 'West Side story'
Ferde Grofé, Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic
Grand Canyon Suite – Cloudburst
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Grand Canyon Suite – Cloudburst Grand Canyon Suite – Cloudburst Grand Canyon Suite – Cloudburst Grand Canyon Suite – Cloudburst
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov & Leonard Bernstein
Scheherazade
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Scheherazade Scheherazade Scheherazade Scheherazade
Leonard Bernstein, Vadim Gluzman, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra & Andrew Litton
Serenade (after Plato's 'The Symposium') for violin, string orchestra, harp & percussion
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Serenade (after Plato's 'The Symposium') for violin, string orchestra, harp & percussion Serenade (after Plato's 'The Symposium') for violin, string orchestra, harp & percussion Serenade (after Plato's 'The Symposium') for violin, string orchestra, harp & percussion Serenade (after Plato's 'The Symposium') for violin, string orchestra, harp & percussion
Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic
Danzon cubano vers. for orchestra
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Danzon cubano vers. for orchestra Danzon cubano vers. for orchestra Danzon cubano vers. for orchestra Danzon cubano vers. for orchestra
Leonard Bernstein, Sir Simon Rattle & Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Wonderful Town - Overture
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Wonderful Town - Overture Wonderful Town - Overture Wonderful Town - Overture Wonderful Town - Overture
[theatre] & Leonard Bernstein
Candide, Act 2; Make our garden grow
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Candide, Act 2; Make our garden grow Candide, Act 2; Make our garden grow Candide, Act 2; Make our garden grow Candide, Act 2; Make our garden grow
Leonard Bernstein, Leonard Slatkin & Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
On the town - stage musical, Times square
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On the town - stage musical, Times square On the town - stage musical, Times square On the town - stage musical, Times square On the town - stage musical, Times square
Hayley Westenra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra & Leonard Bernstein
I Feel Pretty
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I Feel Pretty I Feel Pretty I Feel Pretty I Feel Pretty
Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas, Alexandra Sieber, Cheyenne Jackson, Jessica Vosk, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Kelly Markgraf, Kevin Vortmann & San Francisco S O
West Side story - musical in 2 acts
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West Side story - musical in 2 acts West Side story - musical in 2 acts West Side story - musical in 2 acts West Side story - musical in 2 acts
Franz Peter Schubert, Leonard Bernstein & Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra
Symphony no. 9 in C major D.944 (Great)
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Symphony no. 9 in C major D.944 (Great) Symphony no. 9 in C major D.944 (Great) Symphony no. 9 in C major D.944 (Great) Symphony no. 9 in C major D.944 (Great)
Georges Bizet, Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic
Symphony No. 1 in C
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Symphony No. 1 in C Symphony No. 1 in C Symphony No. 1 in C Symphony No. 1 in C
Johannes Brahms, New York Philharmonic & Leonard Bernstein
Hungarian Dance No. 5
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Hungarian Dance No. 5 Hungarian Dance No. 5 Hungarian Dance No. 5 Hungarian Dance No. 5
David Glen Eisley, Leonard Bernstein, Erie Mills, New York City Opera Chorus, John Mauceri & New York City Opera Orchestra
Make our Garden Grow
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Make our Garden Grow Make our Garden Grow Make our Garden Grow Make our Garden Grow
Gustav Mahler, Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic
Adagio from Symphony No. 9
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Adagio from Symphony No. 9 Adagio from Symphony No. 9 Adagio from Symphony No. 9 Adagio from Symphony No. 9
Leonard Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic
Symphonic Dances: mvt 1
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Symphonic Dances: mvt 1 Symphonic Dances: mvt 1 Symphonic Dances: mvt 1 Symphonic Dances: mvt 1
Leonard Bernstein, June Anderson, Jerry Hadley, London Symphony Orchestra & Leonard Bernstein
Candide – Oh, Happy We
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Candide – Oh, Happy We Candide – Oh, Happy We Candide – Oh, Happy We Candide – Oh, Happy We
Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic
Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.4; Hoe-down (Allegro)
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Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.4; Hoe-down (Allegro) Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.4; Hoe-down (Allegro) Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.4; Hoe-down (Allegro) Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.4; Hoe-down (Allegro)
Jacques Offenbach, New York Philharmonic & Leonard Bernstein
Orpheus in the Underworld – overture
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Orpheus in the Underworld – overture Orpheus in the Underworld – overture Orpheus in the Underworld – overture Orpheus in the Underworld – overture
George Gershwin & Leonard Bernstein
Prelude for Piano No. 2
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Prelude for Piano No. 2 Prelude for Piano No. 2 Prelude for Piano No. 2 Prelude for Piano No. 2
Krystian Zimerman, Johannes Brahms, Wiener Philharmoniker & Leonard Bernstein
Concerto No.1 (2nd Movement)
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Concerto No.1 (2nd Movement) Concerto No.1 (2nd Movement) Concerto No.1 (2nd Movement) Concerto No.1 (2nd Movement)
Ferde Grofé, Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic
Grand Canyon suite
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Grand Canyon suite Grand Canyon suite Grand Canyon suite Grand Canyon suite
BBC Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein & Rumon Gamba
Overture - from Candide
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Overture - from Candide Overture - from Candide Overture - from Candide Overture - from Candide
Leonard Bernstein, Joshua Bell, William Brown, David Zinman & City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
New York, New York
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New York, New York New York, New York New York, New York New York, New York
Leonard Bernstein, Zweden, Jaap van, Riccardo Chailly & Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Serenade [after Plato's "The symposium"]
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Serenade [after Plato's "The symposium"] Serenade [after Plato's "The symposium"] Serenade [after Plato's "The symposium"] Serenade [after Plato's "The symposium"]
Leonard Bernstein, Mario Bernardi, Tracey Dahl & Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
Candide: Glitter and be gay
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Candide: Glitter and be gay Candide: Glitter and be gay Candide: Glitter and be gay Candide: Glitter and be gay
Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic
Candide – Overture
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Candide – Overture Candide – Overture Candide – Overture Candide – Overture
Aaron Copland, New York Philharmonic & Leonard Bernstein
Fanfare For The Common Man For Brass and Percussion
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Fanfare For The Common Man For Brass and Percussion Fanfare For The Common Man For Brass and Percussion Fanfare For The Common Man For Brass and Percussion Fanfare For The Common Man For Brass and Percussion
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton & Leonard Bernstein
Overture to Candide
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Overture to Candide Overture to Candide Overture to Candide Overture to Candide
Leonard Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein, Benny Goodman & Columbia Jazz Combo
Prelude, fugue and riffs for clarinet & jazz orchestra
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Prelude, fugue and riffs for clarinet & jazz orchestra Prelude, fugue and riffs for clarinet & jazz orchestra Prelude, fugue and riffs for clarinet & jazz orchestra Prelude, fugue and riffs for clarinet & jazz orchestra
Simon Rattle, Leonard Bernstein & Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Wonderful town - musical comedy in 2 acts: Overture
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Wonderful town - musical comedy in 2 acts: Overture Wonderful town - musical comedy in 2 acts: Overture Wonderful town - musical comedy in 2 acts: Overture Wonderful town - musical comedy in 2 acts: Overture
Leonard Bernstein, London Symphony Orchestra & Leonard Bernstein
Candide Overture
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Candide Overture Candide Overture Candide Overture Candide Overture
Franz Peter Schubert, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra & Leonard Bernstein
Symphony no 5 (D.485) in B flat major
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Symphony no 5 (D.485) in B flat major Symphony no 5 (D.485) in B flat major Symphony no 5 (D.485) in B flat major Symphony no 5 (D.485) in B flat major
Gustavo Dudamel, Leonard Bernstein & Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar
Mambo from Symphonic dances from 'West Side story'
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Mambo from Symphonic dances from 'West Side story' Mambo from Symphonic dances from 'West Side story' Mambo from Symphonic dances from 'West Side story' Mambo from Symphonic dances from 'West Side story'
Leonard Bernstein, London Symphony Chorus, Aled Jones, Richard Hickox, John Birch, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & Stephen Roberts
Chichester Psalms
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Chichester Psalms Chichester Psalms Chichester Psalms Chichester Psalms
Original Cast & Leonard Bernstein
Tonight (West Side Story)
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Tonight (West Side Story) Tonight (West Side Story) Tonight (West Side Story) Tonight (West Side Story)
Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Marilyn Horne & New York Philharmonic
Old American Songs: I bought me a cat
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Old American Songs: I bought me a cat Old American Songs: I bought me a cat Old American Songs: I bought me a cat Old American Songs: I bought me a cat
Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic & Aaron Copland
Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.1; Buckaroo holiday (Allegro con spirito)
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Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.1; Buckaroo holiday (Allegro con spirito) Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.1; Buckaroo holiday (Allegro con spirito) Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.1; Buckaroo holiday (Allegro con spirito) Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.1; Buckaroo holiday (Allegro con spirito)
John Williams, Leonard Bernstein & Boston Pops Orchestra
Candide - comic operetta in 2 acts, Overture
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Candide - comic operetta in 2 acts, Overture Candide - comic operetta in 2 acts, Overture Candide - comic operetta in 2 acts, Overture Candide - comic operetta in 2 acts, Overture
Giuseppe Verdi, New York Philharmonic & Leonard Bernstein
Grand March from Aida
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Grand March from Aida Grand March from Aida Grand March from Aida Grand March from Aida
New York Philharmonic, David Hopper, Leonard Bernstein & Camille Saint‐Saëns
Le Carnaval des animaux, no.7; Aquarium [fl, gl, 2 pf, str]
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Le Carnaval des animaux, no.7; Aquarium [fl, gl, 2 pf, str] Le Carnaval des animaux, no.7; Aquarium [fl, gl, 2 pf, str] Le Carnaval des animaux, no.7; Aquarium [fl, gl, 2 pf, str] Le Carnaval des animaux, no.7; Aquarium [fl, gl, 2 pf, str]
Leonard Bernstein & [theatre]
Overture To Candide
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Overture To Candide Overture To Candide Overture To Candide Overture To Candide
Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic & Aaron Copland
Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.3; Saturday night waltz
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Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.3; Saturday night waltz Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.3; Saturday night waltz Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.3; Saturday night waltz Rodeo - 4 dance episodes, no.3; Saturday night waltz
Gustavo Dudamel, Leonard Bernstein & Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Second Movement from 'Divertimento'
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Second Movement from 'Divertimento' Second Movement from 'Divertimento' Second Movement from 'Divertimento' Second Movement from 'Divertimento'
Aaron Copland, New York Philharmonic & Leonard Bernstein
Hoe-Down (Rodeo)
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Hoe-Down (Rodeo) Hoe-Down (Rodeo) Hoe-Down (Rodeo) Hoe-Down (Rodeo)
Leonard Bernstein, Rudolf Serkin, Ludwig van Beethoven & New York Philharmonic
Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat (Emperor): 1st mvt - Allegro
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Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat (Emperor): 1st mvt - Allegro Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat (Emperor): 1st mvt - Allegro Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat (Emperor): 1st mvt - Allegro Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat (Emperor): 1st mvt - Allegro
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