A Bernstein Summer

Aug. 25, 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's birth, and Classical 101 is celebrating with A Bernstein Summer! We're creating special programs on air and features on our blog (check out Bernstein Minutes) and social media to pay tribute to the many contributions of this important American figure.

leonardbernstein.com

Over the last few months, during Classical 101's Bernstein Summer, you've enjoyed our Bernstein Minutes on-air and online, along with countless performances of Leonard Bernstein's fabulous music in the run-up to the Aug. 25 centennial of his birth. 

Wikimedia Commons

My OCD tendencies were satisfied when I decided to make this list of artists for whom 2018 is a significant anniversary.

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.

United Artists

Even if you’ve never seen the 1957 hit musical West Side Story, I'll bet you can hum the tune from "Tonight," "Maria," "America" or any number of the show's signature songs and dance pieces on command.

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.

black-and-white photo of a young Leonard Bernstein at a piano, marking a score
Al Ravenna / Library of Congress

If all you know of Leonard Bernstein is the thrilling music from West Side Story, you’re in for an eye-opening summer.

Bernstein was a groundbreaking composer, conductor, mentor and educator. At a time when classical music was often spoken of in measured, reverent tones, Bernstein was passionate, outspoken and sometimes controversial.

color photo of Pluto
NASA / Wikimedia Commons

You could say that Pluto is the Rodney Dangerfield of planets.

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 photo of the young Leonard Bernstein
The Leonard Bernstein Office Inc.

Leonard Bernstein was famous. Not just famous for a musician. Famous, period. As in household name, as in friends with movie stars, as in appearing frequently in sentences with the word "genius."

Bernstein the musician belonged to the world. But he was also a devoted family man.

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.

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