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Leonard Bernstein


A presence on Broadway, in Hollywood, at Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein was a major force in twentieth century music. His exuberant and dramatic style caught the heart of America, bringing classical music to thousands of people from diverse backgrounds. More than any American conductor before him, Bernstein expanded the audience of classical music while maintaining a deep artistic integrity. Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1918. His parents were first generation Jewish immigrants from Russia. Though he began learning the piano at age ten, his family hoped he would follow a more practical route, and sent him to the Boston Latin School. After graduating, he attended Harvard University, where he majored in music. His interest was in becoming a concert pianist, but upon graduating he began to seriously study orchestration at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. More important than any of the formal training, however, were the summers he spent in Tanglewood, Massachusetts, studying with the great conductor Serge Koussevitzky. In 1942, Koussevitzky invited Bernstein to be the assistant conductor at Tanglewood. Though very young for a conductor, his flamboyant style and emotionally charged performances caught the attention of others in the classical music community--one of whom was Arthur Rodzinzki, who appointed him assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. It was at the New York Philharmonic that Bernstein got his big break. Asked to fill in for an ailing guest conductor, Bernstein (then only twenty-five) conducted a difficult and energetic performance with only an evening's preparation. Impressing all who came, Bernstein found himself on the cover of The New York Times--an instant celebrity. Within two years he was named the director of the New York City Symphony. He spent much of the 1950s conducting, teaching, and becoming involved in composing for non- classical genres. Of his many popular efforts of the time, On the Waterfront (1954), Candide (1956), and West Side Story (1957) are the best known. For On the Waterfront he received an Academy Award, and for nearly everything he did, he received the acclaim of an adoring public. In 1957, Bernstein returned to the New York Philharmonic, where he was to make his greatest contribution to the music world. The versatile musical genius that had made him a success on Broadway and in the classical concert halls of the world, found its true home at Lincoln Center. For the next eleven seasons, Bernstein would energize the Philharmonic and American classical music in a way no other director had done. Taking advantage of the recent technological advance of television, Bernstein presented classical music to a wider audience. While he toured throughout the world, visiting seventeen different countries, he also concentrated on creating accessible performances for the average American. For both children and adults, he created shows which were both entertaining and educational. By the time of his resignation from the Philharmonic, he had conducted nine hundred and thirty nine concerts with the orchestra--an unprecedented amount.


Article: Radio & Podcasts

Don Was, divr, Roberto Gatto, Lucy Woodward, Peter Erskine & More

Read "Don Was, divr, Roberto Gatto, Lucy Woodward, Peter Erskine & More" reviewed by Ludovico Granvassu

The return of Don Was behind the bass, tributes to Tony Williams and Leonard Bernstein and much more in another energizing edition of Mondo Jazz.Happy listening!Playlist Ben Allison “Mondo Jazz Theme (feat. Ted Nash & Pyeng Threadgill)" 0:00 The Jazz Defenders “Snakebite Playfight" Memory in Motion (Haggis) 0:16 Host talks 4:56 Lucy ...


Article: Album Review

Cannonball Adderly: Burnin’ in Bordeaux: Live in France 1969

Read "Burnin’ in Bordeaux: Live in France 1969" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

Intent on burning down the house, Burnin' in Bordeaux: Live in France 1969 finds Cannonball Adderley gleefully passing out the matches. Captured very, very, very live at the Bordeaux Jazz Festival in March 1969, Adderley and his fired up co-arsonists--pianist Joe Zawinul, cornetist Nat Adderley, Jr., bassist Victor Gaskin, and drummer Roy McCurdy--go scorched earth from the ...


Article: Album Review

Rachel Z: Sensual

Read "Sensual" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

Whatever her impetus--be it the loss of her parents or peans to a shared sense of hearth, home and heaven--pianist/composer Rachel Z's thirteenth full length album, Sensual, bares a sincere, hopeful humanity. Buoyed by a sense of survival, Sensual opens as if it were a letter, closing with the Foo Fighters' crotch-kick raise-the-roof-'n-rile-'em-up “These ...


Article: Live Review

Joey Alexander Trio at Chris’ Jazz Café

Read "Joey Alexander Trio at Chris’ Jazz Café" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Joey Alexander Trio Chris' Jazz Café Philadelphia, PA March 8, 2024 All musical genres, and specifically jazz, have produced any number of musicians who blossomed in childhood and already in their teens were performing and competitive with the masters. The greatest historical example of course was Wolfgang Amadeus ...


Article: Film Review

Maestro: The Leonard Bernstein Story

Read "Maestro: The Leonard Bernstein Story" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Bradley Cooper Maestro Netflix 2023 This film is what might be called a romantic biopic about “maestro" (and household word) Leonard Bernstein's life and work and his loving but troubled relationship with his wife, the Costa Rican/ Chilean pianist and actor Felicia Montealegre. Yet it has the power and ...


Article: Album Review

John Scofield: Uncle John's Band

Read "Uncle John's Band" reviewed by Neil Duggan

Phil Lesh, Grateful Dead's bassist for over 30 years, claimed their basic inspiration came from the musical unions he saw in the Miles Davis Quartet along with the John Coltrane Quartet from the early 1960s. John Scofield and Lesh have played together on many occasions. So perhaps it is no surprise that the Grateful Dead anthem, ...


Article: New & Noteworthy

Cristina Zavalloni: fra canzone e ricerca

Read "Cristina Zavalloni: fra canzone e ricerca" reviewed by Libero Farnè

L'ecclettismo, la vitalità creativa e l'intelligenza interpretativa di Cristina Zavalloni ci hanno abituato a sorprese continue, sia in concerto che nelle edizioni discografiche. È significativa la successione delle sue incisioni degli ultimissimi anni, a cominciare da For the Living (Encore, 2020), lavoro “impegnato" realizzato nel primo anno del Covid a capo di una formazione italo-scandinava da ...


News: Recording

‘Raymond Scott Reimagined,’ The Unprecedented Musical Journey Featuring Quartet San Francisco, Gordon Goodwin & Take 6 Is Available Now

‘Raymond Scott Reimagined,’ The Unprecedented Musical Journey Featuring Quartet San Francisco, Gordon Goodwin & Take 6 Is Available Now

Violinjazz Recordings, the label of acclaimed Grammy-nominated musician Jeremy Cohen, principal violinist and founder of Classical Crossover specialists Quartet San Francisco, has announced the release of ‘Raymond Scott Reimagined,’ an unprecedented new collaboration teaming Quartet San Francisco with accomplished Grammy/Emmy Award-winning composer/producer/arranger Gordon Goodwin and revered Grammy-winning a cappella group Take 6. The thrilling 14-track collection, ...


Article: In the Artist's Own Words

Not Like Before: Michael Robinson's Jazz Without Borders

Read "Not Like Before: Michael Robinson's Jazz Without Borders" reviewed by Michael Robinson

Playing my personal vision of jazz, claiming that name as part of my heritage, I endeavor feeling the rhythms of life in the present, past and future, entering into them through touch and nuance at the piano, connecting rajas, sattva and tamas; circular movement, cohesion and disintegration. I've been fortunate to know masters of improvised ...


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