Leonard Bernstein

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Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein by Jack Mitchell
Born August 25, 1918
Lawrence/Massachusetts USA
Died October 14, 1990
New York USA
Nationality Jewish
Occupation Composer
Known for Operetts

Leonard Bernstein (1918 – 1990) was an Jewish American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer and pianist.


Bernstein, born David John Cawdell Irving, was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim. According to The New York Times, he was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history." He is quite possibly the conductor whose name is best known to the public in general, especially the American public.

His fame derived from his long tenure as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, from his conducting of concerts with most of the world's leading orchestras, and from his music for West Side Story, as well as Candide, Wonderful Town, On the Town and his own Mass.

Bernstein was also the first conductor to give numerous television lectures on classical music, starting in 1954 and continuing until his death. In addition, he was a skilled pianist,[1] often conducting piano concertos from the keyboard.

As a composer he wrote in many styles encompassing symphonic and orchestral music, ballet, film and theatre music, choral works, opera, chamber music and pieces for the piano. Many of his works are regularly performed around the world, although none has matched the tremendous popular and commercial success of West Side Story.

Homosexual, Communist, Jewish

Bernstein was openly homosexual. He often flirted with young men. He sympathised with Bolshevism throughout his life. He was openly Jewish and wrote several Jewish musical pieces, like the "Jeremiah" and "Kaddish" symphonie. He considered Holocaust victims until the end of his life.

See also

External links


  1. Laird, Paul R. Leonard Bernstein: A Guide to Research. Routledge, 2002. p. 10.