Bernstein Minutes

Leading up to Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday on Aug. 25, 2018, Classical 101 is airing a series of Bernstein Minutes weekdays at noon. Each of these short features, created by our hosts, highlights an interesting fact, reminiscence or colorful story about the great conductor. Find Bernstein Minutes, some extended versions of what you'll hear on-air, videos and more here.

Library of Congress / leonardbernstein.com

For the 1961 movie West Side Story, composer Leonard Bernstein was not the conductor. 

University of Minnesota Institute of Advanced Studies / U.S. National Guard

For East Germans, the Berlin Wall wasn't just a vast, 96-mile structure — it represented what they called "the wall in the head," a looming feeling of no escape and no hope.

Marion S. Trikosko / Library of Congress / leonardbernstein.com

It's simply too difficult to create a list of recordings made by conductor Leonard Bernstein that could be called "The Best of Lenny" or "The Definitive Bernstein List."

Alexander Kahle, RKO Radio / Wikimedia Commons

Like many people in the 1940s, Leonard Bernstein was a fan of actress Bette Davis. And, as Bernstein's conducting and composing careers skyrocketed, the feelings became mutual.

b&w headshot of the young Leonard Bernstein
The Leonard Bernstein Office Inc. / leonardbernstein.com

Here’s the story of one of Leonard Bernstein’s college capers.

The Leonard Bernstein Office Inc.

Between Maude Adams in 1905 and Mary Martin in 1954, there was Leonard Bernstein!

Adams lives in museums today and Martin on an enchanting TV film. Both are known for playing Peter Pan on Broadway.

b&w image of the 7-year-old Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello while his sister, Yeou-cheng Ma, accomapnies at the piano
youtube.com/watch?v=dNvAUobb1y4

Leonard Bernstein was there at the beginning of Yo-Yo Ma's career. And in a special way, Yo-Yo Ma was there at the end of Bernstein's life.

Warner Classics

It wasn't as if Leonard Bernstein was looking for work.

By 1953, at the age of 35, Bernstein had already created two Broadway hits and had been on top of the conducting game since his last-minute debut with the New York Philharmonic (a broadcast, yet) 10 years earlier.

color photo of Leonard Bernstein conducting
New York Philharmonic / youtube.com/watch?v=fHPRWEpyxfM

The year is 1941. War is raging in Europe.

Here on the home front, Leonard Bernstein is 23 years old, a student at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music and a mentee of two legendary conductors — Fritz Reiner and Serge Koussevitzky.

leonard bernstein in royal blue shirt holding conducting wand
Allan Warren / Wikimedia Commons

On Oct. 22, 1983, the Metropolitan Opera threw an all-day bash celebrating its 100th birthday.

black-and-white photo of Leonard Bernstein pointing with his foot to notes on an oversized score of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
CBS / alexanderstreet.com

For more than a decade, Leonard Bernstein brought young people to classical music through his televised Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic. But before that series, Bernstein was a fixture on the major network TV series Omnibus.