25 August 1918 - 14 October 1990 (age 72)

Leonard Bernstein was an American 20th century composer, writer, teacher and conductor. All of these activities he pursued to a remarkable degree with great energy and success.






Born: Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA in 1918 .Parents first generation Jewish immigrants from Russia.
Father: Sam Bernstein, businessman, initially discouraged Leonard's musical aspirations.
Mother: Jennie
Siblings: sister - Shirley, brother - Burton
Wife: Chilean actress Felicia Montealegre
Children: 3 - Jamie, Alexander and Nina
Death: Died 5 days after retiring.
Cause of death: Pneumonia and lung cancer. Suffered from emphysema for a long time. Heavy smoker.
Grave: Green Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York


 - West Side Story
 - On the Waterfront (Oscar nominated)
 - Candide
 - On the Town
 - Wonderful Town
 - 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

 - Opera: Trouble in Tahiti
 - 3 Symphonies: Age of Anxiety, Jeremiah, Kaddish
 - Ballet: Fancy Free
 - The Chichester Psalms
 - Mass
 - Various other orchestral works 


- This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.

- In the olden days, everybody sang. You were expected to sing as well as talk. It was a mark of the cultured man to sing.

- I'm not interested in having an orchestra sound like itself. I want it to sound like the composer.

- When I am with composers, I say I am a conductor. When I am with conductors, I say I am a composer.
Leonard Bernstein

Thanks to Brainyquote.com

West Side Story

Candide Overture

Mass (trailer)

Bernstein the Teacher:
Music education was of special importance for him. Read here an article by his son Jamie.

The Young People's Concerts
From 1958 to 1972 he led 53 of these concerts with the New York Philharmonic. They were televised and were an important introduction to classical music for many people. Here below is an example of one.
There is a YouTube channel (ArtfulLearning) which has many of these concerts which are a valuable teaching resource.

Young People's Concerts | What Does Music Mean (Part 1 of 4)

The Harvard Lectures
In 1973 he was appointed Professor of Poetry at Harvard University and delivered six televised lectures on music. The title 'The Unanswered Question' was taken from a work by Charles Ives.

The Unanswered Question 1973 1 Musical Phonology

Amazon store
Books, DVDs on Amazon.com (US)

Links, sources and where to go for more information

- Library of Congress (The Leonard Bernstein Collection)

- Leonard Bernstein - official site

- A Total Embrace of Music - excellent article by Peter Gutmann

- New York Times Obituary

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