Leonard Bernstein’s Birthday

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Leonard BernsteinÕs Birthday
Leonard Bernstein was born on August 25, 1918 (Massachusetts-U.S.) and died October 14, 1990. He was not only a composer but a conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. 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. Nevertheless, we cannot forget other popular musicals in which he took part, such as Wonderful Town. Bernstein was an eclectic composer whose music fused elements of jazz, Jewish music, theatre music and the work of earlier composers like Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky or George Gershwin. Some of his works, especially his score for the already named West Side Story helped bridge the gap between classical and popular music. Despite the fact that he was a popular success as a composer, Bernstein himself is reported to have been disillusioned that some of his more serious works were not rated more highly by critics, and that he himself had not been able to devote more time to composing because of his conducting and other activities.

Bernstein was one of the major figures in orchestral conducting in the second half of the 20th century. He was probably the main conductor from the 1960s onwards who acquired a sort of superstar status similar to that of Herbert von Karajan. BernsteinÕs conducting was characterised by extremes of emotion with the rhythmic pulse of the music conveyed visually through his balletic podium manner. Musicians often reported that his manner in rehearsal was the same as in concert.

Leonard Bernstein embraced the new medium of television in 1954, becoming the first conductor to give televised lectures on classical music, a practice that continued throughout the rest of his life. Probably thanks to him lots of people became enthusiastic about classical music.

Happy 97th birthday!

By David Pulido Suarez

Student at CET Services