The Leonard Bernstein directory

Leonard Bernstein by Dennis Mukai

Leonard Bernstein illustration courtesy of Dennis Mukai, © 1986 Dennis Mukai

here you will find access to the most comprehensive and repeatedly verified life database with over 10,000 entries concerning this exceptional musician in the following categories:

  • "Life" also contains information about all the honours, the many orchestral rehearsals + interviews, self-written newspaper articles and countless personal events

  • "Concerto" with all concerts, resp. performances

  • "Orchestra" with all participating orchestras worldwide

  • "Records" with all recordings on sound and/or image

  • "Works" contains a complete list of his works

  • "Docus" shows a list of all books, note sheets, commemorative stamps, first day covers, commemorative coins

  • "Quotes" is a collection of quotations by, and about, Bernstein

  • "Sources" source of information for the site

our special thanks goes to the archives and employees of the many renowned orchestras, concert halls and opera houses, the music distributors and publishers for their dedicated and devoted efforts to provide an inexhaustible source for music lovers, students and admirers of Leonard Bernstein from all over the world.

short biography

♦ Louis (Leonard), "Lenny" Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on August 25, 1918. In 1939, after studying music at Harvard University, he became a student of composition, piano and orchestration under Fritz Reiner at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. en passant he attended conducting classes in tanglewood (Massachusetts) under Serge Koussevitzky with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
♦ on November 14, 1943, as assistant of the New York Philharmonic and with no time to rehearse, he substituted for the ailing Bruno Walter at a concert in Carnegie Hall that was broadcast on radio nationwide, establishing his future fame.
♦ after the end of World War II, he conducted an orchestra of Holocaust survivors near Munich. In 1951, he married Chilean-born Felicia Montealegre-Cahn; together they had three children.
♦ on November 14, 1954, he narrated the first program in the "Omnibus" series. This was followed by another 53 "Young People’s Concerts" that were regularly televised up until 1972.
♦ shortly after the premiere of his "West Side Story" in September 1957, he became the first US American to hold the post of music director of the New York Philharmonic, a position he held for the next 11 years, conducting more than 1,250 concerts during his lifetime.
♦ in November 1959, the first of five popular books entitled "The Joy of Music" was published.
♦ his "Mass" was first performed for the opening of the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts on September 8, 1971, in Washington, DC. Two years later he gave a series of six talks on the topic "Music – The Unanswered Question" at Harvard University.
♦ in celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Christmas Day, 1989, he conducted Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, replacing the text with "Ode to Freedom".
♦ on October 14, 1990, at around 6:30pm, Bernstein succumbed to lung cancer.

♦ as guest-conductor he led more than 100 orchestras (of which 68 in the u.s.a.; among others from London, Vienna, Paris, Munich, Rome and the Israeli) on countless tours and conduct many first performances. In addition to winning Emmy and Grammy awards, he received a lot of titles of honorary doctors, the Siemens Prize, the rank of an officer of the Legion d’Honneur from France and the "Praemium Imperial" from Japan.
♦ he composed symphonies, ballets, choral works, film and theater music, as well as an opera, an operetta, pieces for the piano and much more. The influence of his contemporaries Gershwin, Copland and Stravinsky is unmistakable.
♦ he also made a name for himself as a pianist, author, educator, social activist, music analyst and communicator and humanist, he is regarded as the most documented musician in history.

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