Leonard Bernstein
Name: Leonard Bernstein
Occupation: Composer
Gender: Male
Height: 170 cm (5' 7'')
Birth Day: August 25, 1918
Death Date: Oct 14, 1990 (age 72)
Age: Aged 72
Birth Place: Lawrence, United States
Zodiac Sign: Virgo

Social Accounts

Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein was born on August 25, 1918 in Lawrence, United States (72 years old). Leonard Bernstein is a Composer, zodiac sign: Virgo. Nationality: United States. Approx. Net Worth: $5 Million.

Trivia

He 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.

Net Worth 2020

$5 Million
Find out more about Leonard Bernstein net worth here.

Family Members

# Name Relationship Net Worth Salary Age Occupation
#1 Felicia Montealegre Felicia Montealegre $1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.) N/A 56 Actor

Does Leonard Bernstein Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Leonard Bernstein died on Oct 14, 1990 (age 72).

Physique

Height Weight Hair Colour Eye Colour Blood Type Tattoo(s)
170 cm (5' 7'') N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Before Fame

He was the accompanist for The Reviewers, a comedy troupe comprised of lyricist and playwright Adolph Green, Green's comedienne and writing partner Betty Comden, and Broadway and film performer Judy Holliday. 

Biography

Biography Timeline

1932

Leonard's youngest sibling Burton was born in 1932, thirteen years after his older brother. Despite the large span in age, the three siblings remained close their entire lives.

Sam took his son to orchestral concerts in his teenage years and eventually supported his music education. In May 1932, Leonard attended his first orchestral concert with the Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by Arthur Fiedler. Bernstein recalled, “To me, in those days, the Pops was heaven itself … I thought … it was the supreme achievement of the human race.” It was at this concert that Bernstein first heard Ravel's Boléro, which made a tremendous impression on him.

On March 30, 1932, Bernstein played Brahms's Rhapsody in G Minor at his first public piano performance in Susan Williams's studio recital at the New England Conservatory. Two years later, he made his solo debut with orchestra in Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor with the Boston Public School Orchestra.

1935

After graduation from Boston Latin School in 1935, Bernstein attended Harvard University, where he studied music with, among others, Edward Burlingame Hill and Walter Piston. Although he majored in music with a final year thesis (1939) entitled "The Absorption of Race Elements into American Music" (reproduced in his book Findings), one of Bernstein's intellectual influences at Harvard was the aesthetics Professor David Prall, whose multidisciplinary outlook on the arts Bernstein shared for the rest of his life.

1938

Bernstein met composer Aaron Copland on his birthday in 1938, first at a concert and then at a party afterwards. At the party Bernstein played Copland's Piano Variations, a work Bernstein loved. Although he was not formally Copland's student, Bernstein would regularly seek advice from Copland in the following years about his own compositions and would often cite him as "his only real composition teacher".

1939

After completing his studies at Harvard in 1939 (graduating with a B.A. cum laude), he enrolled at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. At Curtis, Bernstein studied conducting with Fritz Reiner (who anecdotally is said to have given Bernstein the only "A" grade he ever awarded), piano with Isabelle Vengerova, orchestration with Randall Thompson, counterpoint with Richard Stöhr, and score reading with Renée Longy Miquelle.

1940

In 1940, Bernstein began his study at the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer institute, Tanglewood, in the conducting class of the orchestra's conductor, Serge Koussevitzky. Other students in the class included Lukas Foss, who also became a lifelong friend. Koussevitzky became a sort of father figure to him and influenced Bernstein's emotional way of interpreting music. Bernstein later became Koussevitzky's Tanglewood conducting assistant and dedicated his Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety, to him.

1943

On November 14, 1943, having recently been appointed assistant conductor to Artur Rodziński of the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein made his major conducting debut at short notice—and without any rehearsal—after guest conductor Bruno Walter came down with the flu. The program included works by Schumann, Miklós Rózsa, Wagner and Richard Strauss's Don Quixote with cello soloist Joseph Schuster. Before the concert Bernstein briefly spoke to Walter, who discussed particular difficulties in the works he was to perform. The next day, The New York Times carried the story on its front page and remarked in an editorial, "It's a good American success story. The warm, friendly triumph of it filled Carnegie Hall and spread far over the air waves." He became instantly famous because the concert was nationally broadcast on CBS Radio and began appearing as a guest conductor with many orchestras in the United States and Canada.

1944

In addition to becoming known as a conductor, Bernstein also emerged as a composer in the same period. In January 1944, he conducted the premiere of his Jeremiah Symphony in Pittsburgh with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. His score to the ballet Fancy Free choreographed by Jerome Robbins commissioned by American Ballet Theatre in New York in April 1944, which was later developed into the musical On the Town with lyrics by Comden and Green that opened on Broadway in December 1944.

1945

From 1945 to 1947, Bernstein was the Music Director of the New York City Symphony, which had been founded the previous year by the conductor Leopold Stokowski. The orchestra (with support from Mayor Fiorello La Guardia) had modern programs and affordable tickets.

In 1945, Bernstein discussed the possibility of acting in a film with Greta Garbo—playing Tchaikovsky opposite her starring role as the composer's patron Nadezhda von Meck.

1946

In 1946, he conducted opera professionally for the first time at Tanglewood with the American premiere of Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes, which was commissioned by Koussevitzky. That same year, Arturo Toscanini invited Bernstein to guest conduct two concerts with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, one of which also featured Bernstein as soloist in Ravel's Piano Concerto in G.

In 1946, he made his overseas debut with the Czech Philharmonic in Prague. He also recorded Ravel's Piano Concerto in G as soloist and conductor with the Philharmonia Orchestra. On July 4, 1946, Bernstein conducted the European premiere of Fancy Free with the Ballet Theatre at the Royal Opera House in London.

1947

In 1947, Bernstein conducted in Tel Aviv for the first time, beginning a lifelong association with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, then known as the Palestine Symphony Orchestra. The next year he conducted an open-air concert for Israeli troops at Beersheba in the middle of the desert during the Arab-Israeli war. In 1957, he conducted the inaugural concert of the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv. In 1967, he conducted a concert on Mount Scopus to commemorate the Reunification of Jerusalem, featuring Mahler's Symphony No. 2 and Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with soloist Isaac Stern. During the 1970s, Bernstein recorded his symphonies and other works with the Israel Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammophon. The city of Tel Aviv added his name to the Orchestra Plaza in the center of the city.

1949

On December 10, 1949, he made his first television appearance as conductor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. The concert, which also included an address by Eleanor Roosevelt, celebrated the one-year anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly's ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and included the premiere of Aaron Copland's "Preamble" with Sir Laurence Olivier narrating text from the UN Charter. The concert was televised by NBC Television Network.

In April 1949, Bernstein performed as piano soloist in the world premiere of his Symphony No. 2: The Age of Anxiety with Koussevitzy conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Later that year, Bernstein conducted the world premiere of the Turangalîla-Symphonie by Olivier Messiaen, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Part of the rehearsal for the concert was recorded and released by the orchestra. When Koussevitzky died in 1951, Bernstein became head of the orchestra and conducting departments at Tanglewood.

1950

In 1950, Bernstein composed incidental music for the Broadway play Peter Pan starring Jean Arthur as Peter Pan, Boris Karloff in the dual roles of George Darling and Captain Hook, and Marcia Henderson as Wendy.

1951

After much personal struggle and a turbulent on-off engagement, Bernstein married actress Felicia Cohn Montealegre on September 10, 1951. One suggestion is that he chose to marry partly to dispel rumors about his private life to help secure a major conducting appointment, following advice from his mentor Dimitri Mitropoulos about the conservative nature of orchestra boards. In a book released in October 2013, The Leonard Bernstein Letters, his wife acknowledges his homosexuality. Felicia writes: "You are a homosexual and may never change—you don't admit to the possibility of a double life, but if your peace of mind, your health, your whole nervous system depend on a certain sexual pattern what can you do?" Arthur Laurents (Bernstein's collaborator in West Side Story) said that Bernstein was "a gay man who got married. He wasn't conflicted about it at all. He was just gay." Shirley Rhoades Perle, another friend of Bernstein, said that she thought "he required men sexually and women emotionally". But the early years of his marriage seem to have been happy, and no one has suggested Bernstein and his wife did not love each other. They had three children, Jamie, Alexander, and Nina. There are reports, though, that Bernstein did sometimes have brief extramarital liaisons with young men, which several family friends have said his wife knew about.

1952

Bernstein was a visiting music professor from 1951 to 1956 at Brandeis University, and he founded the Creative Arts Festival there in 1952. He conducted various productions at the first festival, including the premiere of his opera Trouble in Tahiti and Blitzstein's English version of Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera. The festival was renamed after him in 2005, becoming the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts.

1953

In 1953 he was the first American conductor to appear at La Scala in Milan, conducting Maria Callas in Cherubini's Medea directed by Luchino Visconti. This opera had been virtually abandoned by performers, and he learned it in a week. It was to prove a fruitful collaboration, and Callas and Bernstein went on to perform in Bellini's La sonnambula in 1955.

In 1953, he wrote the music for Wonderful Town on very short notice, working again with Comden and Green, who wrote the lyrics. It won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

1954

Throughout his career, Bernstein often talked about the music of Charles Ives, who died in 1954. In 1951, Bernstein conducted the New York Philharmonic in the world premiere of Ives' Symphony No. 2, which was written around half a century earlier. The composer, old and frail, was unable (some reports say unwilling) to attend the concert, but his wife did. Ives reportedly listened to a broadcast of it on a radio in his kitchen some days later.

In 1954 Bernstein presented the first of his television lectures for the CBS arts program Omnibus. The live lecture, entitled "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony", involved Bernstein explaining the symphony's first movement with the aid of musicians from the "Symphony of the Air" (formerly NBC Symphony Orchestra). The program featured manuscripts from Beethoven's own hand and a giant page of the score covering the floor. Nine more Omnibus lectures followed from 1955 to 1961 (later on ABC and then NBC) covering jazz, conducting, American musical comedy, modern music, J.S. Bach, and grand opera.

1956

Around the time he was appointed music director of the New York Philharmonic, and living opposite Carnegie Hall at The Osborne, Bernstein composed the music for two shows. The first was for the operetta Candide, which was first performed in 1956 with a libretto by Lillian Hellman based on Voltaire's novella. The second was Bernstein's collaboration with the choreographer Jerome Robbins, the writer Arthur Laurents, and the lyricist Stephen Sondheim to produce the musical West Side Story. The first three had worked on it intermittently since Robbins first suggested the idea in 1949. Finally, with the addition of Sondheim to the team and a period of concentrated effort, it received its Broadway premiere in 1957 and has since proven to be Bernstein's most popular and enduring score.

1957

Bernstein was named the music director of the New York Philharmonic in 1957, replacing Dimitri Mitropoulos. He began his tenure in that position in 1958, having held the post jointly with Mitropoulos from 1957 to 1958. In 1958, Bernstein and Mitropoulos took the New York Philharmonic on tour to South America. In his first season in sole charge, Bernstein included a season-long survey of American classical music. Themed programming of this sort was fairly novel at that time compared to the present day. Bernstein held the music directorship until 1969 (with a sabbatical in 1965) although he continued to conduct and make recordings with the orchestra for the rest of his life and was appointed "laureate conductor".

1959

In 1959, he took the New York Philharmonic on a tour of Europe and the Soviet Union, portions of which were filmed by CBS Television. A highlight of the tour was Bernstein's performance of Dmitri Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony, in the presence of the composer, who came on stage at the end to congratulate Bernstein and the musicians. In October, when Bernstein and the orchestra returned to the U.S., they recorded the symphony for Columbia. He recorded it for a second time with the orchestra on tour in Japan in 1979. Bernstein seems to have limited himself to only conducting certain Shostakovich symphonies, namely the numbers 1, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 14. He made two recordings of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony (No. 7), one with the New York Philharmonic in the 1960s and another recorded live in 1988 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (one of the few recordings he made with them, also including the Symphony No. 1).

Bernstein performed a wide repertoire from the Baroque era to the 20th century, although perhaps from the 1970s onwards he tended to focus more on music from the Romantic era. He was considered especially accomplished with the works of Gustav Mahler and with American composers in general, including George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Roy Harris, William Schuman, and of course himself. Some of his recordings of works by these composers would likely appear on many music critics' lists of recommended recordings. A list of his other well-thought-of recordings would include, among others, individual works from Haydn, Beethoven, Berlioz, Schumann, Liszt, Nielsen, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Hindemith, and Shostakovich. His recordings of Rhapsody in Blue (full-orchestra version) and An American in Paris for Columbia Records, released in 1959, are considered definitive by many, although Bernstein cut the Rhapsody slightly, and his more 'symphonic' approach with slower tempi is quite far from Gershwin's own conception of the piece, evident from his two recordings. (Oscar Levant, Earl Wild, and others come closer to Gershwin's own style.) Bernstein never conducted Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F, or more than a few excerpts from Porgy and Bess, although he did discuss the latter in his article Why Don't You Run Upstairs and Write a Nice Gershwin Tune?, originally published in The New York Times and later reprinted in his 1959 book The Joy of Music.

1960

In 1960 Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic held a Mahler Festival to mark the centenary of the composer's birth. Bernstein, Walter and Mitropoulos conducted performances. The composer's widow, Alma, attended some of Bernstein's rehearsals. In 1960 Bernstein also made his first commercial recording of a Mahler symphony (the Fourth) and over the next seven years he made the first complete cycle of recordings of all nine of Mahler's completed symphonies. (All featured the New York Philharmonic except the 8th Symphony which was recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra following a concert in the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1966.) The success of these recordings, along with Bernstein's concert performances and television talks, was an important, if not vital, part of the revival of interest in Mahler in the 1960s, especially in the U.S. Bernstein claimed that he identified with the works on a personal level, and once said of the composer: [He] showered a rain of beauty on this world that has not been equaled since.

1961

He became a well-known figure in the United States through his series of fifty-three televised Young People's Concerts for CBS, which grew out of his Omnibus programs. His first Young People's Concert was televised a few weeks after his tenure began as principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He became as famous for his educational work in those concerts as for his conducting. The Bernstein Young People's Concerts were the first and probably the most influential series of music appreciation programs ever produced on television, and they were highly acclaimed by critics. Some of Bernstein's music lectures were released on records; a recording of Humor in Music was awarded a Grammy award for Best Documentary or Spoken Word Recording (other than comedy) in 1961. The programs were shown in many countries around the world, often with Bernstein dubbed into other languages. All of them were released on DVD by Kultur Video (half of them in 2013).

In 1961 Bernstein had conducted at President John F. Kennedy's pre-inaugural gala, and he was an occasional guest in the White House. Years later he conducted at the funeral mass in 1968 for President Kennedy's brother Robert F. Kennedy, featuring the Adagietto from Mahler's 5th Symphony. Jackie Kennedy famously wrote to Bernstein after the event: When your Mahler started to fill (but that is the wrong word — because it was more this sensitive trembling) the Cathedral today — I thought it the most beautiful music I had ever heard.

1962

In one oft-reported incident, in April 1962 Bernstein appeared on stage before a performance of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor with the pianist Glenn Gould. During rehearsals, Gould had argued for tempi much broader than normal, which did not reflect Bernstein's concept of the music. Bernstein gave a brief address to the audience starting with "Don't be frightened; Mr Gould is here..." and going on to "In a concerto, who is the boss (audience laughter)—the soloist or the conductor?" (Audience laughter grows louder). The answer is, of course, sometimes the one and sometimes the other, depending on the people involved." This speech was subsequently interpreted by Harold C. Schonberg, music critic for The New York Times, as abdication of personal responsibility and an attack on Gould, whose performance Schonberg went on to criticize heavily. Bernstein always denied that this had been his intent and has stated that he made these remarks with Gould's blessing. In the book Dinner with Lenny, published in October 2013, author Jonathan Cott provided a thorough debunking, in the conductor's own words, of the legend which Bernstein himself described in the book as "one ... that won't go away".

In 1962 the New York Philharmonic moved from Carnegie Hall to Philharmonic Hall (now David Geffen Hall) in the new Lincoln Center. The move was not without controversy because of acoustic problems with the new hall. Bernstein conducted the gala opening concert featuring vocal works by Mahler, Beethoven and Vaughan Williams, and the premiere of Aaron Copland's Connotations, a serial-work that was merely politely received. During the intermission Bernstein kissed the cheek of the President's wife Jacqueline Kennedy, a break with protocol that was commented on at the time.

1963

On November 23, 1963, the day after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Leonard Bernstein conducted the New York Philharmonic and the Schola Cantorum of New York in a nationally televised memorial featuring the "Resurrection Symphony" by Gustav Mahler. This was the first televised performance of the complete symphony. Mahler's music had never been performed for such an event, and since the tribute to JFK, Mahler symphonies have become part of the Philharmonic's standard repertoire for national mourning.

1964

In 1964 Bernstein conducted Franco Zeffirelli's production of Verdi's Falstaff at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

1965

With his commitment to the New York Philharmonic and his many other activities, Bernstein had little time for composition during the 1960s. The two major works he produced at this time were his Kaddish Symphony, dedicated to the recently assassinated President John F. Kennedy, and the Chichester Psalms, which he produced during a sabbatical year he took from the Philharmonic in 1965 to concentrate on composition. Wanting to make more time for composition was probably a major factor in his decision to step down as Music Director of the Philharmonic in 1969, and to never again accept such a position elsewhere.

1966

In 1966 he made his debut at the Vienna State Opera conducting Luchino Visconti's production of the same opera with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Falstaff. During his time in Vienna he also recorded the opera for Columbia Records and conducted his first subscription concert with the Vienna Philharmonic (which is made up of players from the Vienna State Opera) featuring Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with Fischer-Dieskau and James King. He returned to the State Opera in 1968 for a production of Der Rosenkavalier and in 1970 for Otto Schenk's production of Beethoven's Fidelio.

1970

In 1970 Bernstein wrote and narrated a ninety-minute program filmed on location in and around Vienna as a celebration of Beethoven's 200th birthday. It featured parts of Bernstein's rehearsals and performance for the Otto Schenk production of Fidelio, Bernstein playing the 1st piano concerto and conducting the Ninth Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic, with the young Plácido Domingo amongst the soloists. The program was first telecast in 1970 on Austrian and British television, and then on CBS in the U.S. on Christmas Eve 1971. The show, originally entitled Beethoven's Birthday: A Celebration in Vienna, won an Emmy and was issued on DVD in 2005. In the summer of 1970, during the Festival of London, he conducted Verdi's Requiem Mass in St. Paul's Cathedral, with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Like many of his friends and colleagues, Bernstein had been involved in various left-wing causes and organizations since the 1940s. He was blacklisted by the US State Department and CBS in the early 1950s, but unlike others his career was not greatly affected, and he was never required to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. His political life received substantial press coverage though in 1970, due to a gathering hosted at his Manhattan apartment at 895 Park Avenue on January 14, 1970. Bernstein and his wife held the event seeking to raise awareness and money for the defense of several members of the Black Panther Party against a variety of charges, especially the case of the Panther 21. The New York Times initially covered the gathering as a lifestyle item, but later posted an editorial harshly unfavorable to Bernstein following generally negative reaction to the widely publicized story. This reaction culminated in June 1970 with the appearance of "Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny's", an essay by journalist Tom Wolfe featured on the cover of the magazine New York. The article contrasted the Bernsteins' comfortable lifestyle in one of the world's most expensive neighborhoods with the anti-establishment politics of the Black Panthers. It led to the popularization of "radical chic" as a critical term. Both Bernstein and his wife Felicia responded to the criticism, arguing that they were motivated not by a shallow desire to express fashionable sympathy but by their concern for civil liberties.

1971

Bernstein's major compositions during the 1970s were his Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers; his score for the ballet Dybbuk; his orchestral vocal work Songfest; and his U.S. bicentenary musical 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue written with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner which was his first real theatrical flop, and last original Broadway show. The world premiere of Bernstein's MASS took place on September 8, 1971. Commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy for the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., it was partly intended as an anti-war statement. Hastily written in places, the work represented a fusion not only of different religious traditions (Latin liturgy, Hebrew prayer, and plenty of contemporary English lyrics) but also of different musical styles, including classical and rock music. It was originally a target of criticism from the Roman Catholic Church on the one hand and contemporary music critics who objected to its Broadway/populist elements on the other. In the present day, it is perhaps seen as less blasphemous and more a piece of its era: in 2000 it was even performed in the Vatican.

1972

In 1972 Bernstein recorded Bizet's Carmen, with Marilyn Horne in the title role and James McCracken as Don Jose, after leading several stage performances of the opera at the Metropolitan Opera. The recording was one of the first in stereo to use the original spoken dialogue between the sung portions of the opera, rather than the musical recitatives that were composed by Ernest Guiraud after Bizet's death. The recording was Bernstein's first for Deutsche Grammophon and won a Grammy.

1973

Bernstein was appointed in 1973 to the Charles Eliot Norton Chair as Professor of Poetry at his alma mater, Harvard University, and delivered a series of six televised lectures on music with musical examples played by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. However, these lectures were not televised until 1976. Taking the title from a Charles Ives work, he called the series The Unanswered Question; it was a set of interdisciplinary lectures in which he borrowed terminology from contemporary linguistics to analyze and compare musical construction to language. The lectures are presently available in both book and DVD form. The DVD video was not taken directly from the lectures at Harvard, rather they were recreated again at the WGBH studios for filming. This appears to be the only surviving Norton lectures series available to the general public in video format. Noam Chomsky wrote in 2007 on the Znet forums about the linguistic aspects of the lecture: "I spent some time with Bernstein during the preparation and performance of the lectures. My feeling was that he was onto something, but I couldn't really judge how significant it was."

1974

Bernstein played an instrumental role in the exiling of renowned cellist and conductor, Mstislav Rostropovich, from the USSR in 1974. Rostropovich, a strong believer in free speech and democracy, was officially held in disgrace; his concerts and tours both at home and abroad cancelled, and in 1972 he was prohibited to travel outside of the Soviet Union. During a trip to the USSR in 1974, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy and his wife Joan, urged by Bernstein and others in the cultural sphere, mentioned Rostropovich's situation to Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet Union Communist Party Leader. Two days later, Rostropovich was granted his exit visa.

1976

After stepping down from the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein continued to appear with them in most years until his death, and he toured with them to Europe in 1976 and to Asia in 1979. He also strengthened his relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic—he conducted all nine completed Mahler symphonies with them (plus the Adagio from the 10th) in the period from 1967 to 1976. All of these were filmed for Unitel with the exception of the 1967 Mahler 2nd, which instead Bernstein filmed with the London Symphony Orchestra in Ely Cathedral in 1973. In the late 1970s Bernstein conducted a complete Beethoven symphony cycle with the Vienna Philharmonic, and cycles of Brahms and Schumann were to follow in the 1980s. Other orchestras he conducted on numerous occasions in the 1970s include the Israel Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In October 1976, Leonard Bernstein led the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and pianist Claudio Arrau in an Amnesty International Benefit Concert in Munich. To honor his late wife and to continue their joint support for human rights, Leonard Bernstein established the Felicia Montealegre Bernstein Fund of Amnesty International USA to provide aid for human rights activists with limited resources.

A major period of upheaval in Bernstein's personal life began in 1976 when he decided that he could no longer conceal his homosexuality and he left his wife Felicia for a period to live with the musical director of the classical music radio station KKHI in San Francisco, Tom Cothran. The next year Felicia was diagnosed with lung cancer and eventually Bernstein moved back in with her and cared for her until she died on June 16, 1978. Bernstein is reported to have often spoken of his terrible guilt over his wife's death. Most biographies of Bernstein state that his lifestyle became more excessive and his personal behavior sometimes more reckless and crude after her death. However, his public standing and many of his close friendships appear to have remained unaffected, and he resumed his busy schedule of musical activity.

1977

In his later years, Bernstein's life and work were celebrated around the world (as they have been since his death). The Israel Philharmonic celebrated his involvement with them at festivals in Israel and Austria in 1977. In 1986 the London Symphony Orchestra mounted a Bernstein Festival in London with one concert that Bernstein himself conducted attended by the Queen. In 1988 Bernstein's 70th birthday was celebrated by a lavish televised gala at Tanglewood featuring many performers who had worked with him over the years.

1978

In 1978, Bernstein returned to the Vienna State Opera to conduct a revival of the Otto Schenk production of Fidelio, now featuring Gundula Janowitz and René Kollo in the lead roles. At the same time, Bernstein made a studio recording of the opera for Deutsche Grammophon and the opera itself was filmed by Unitel and released on DVD by Deutsche Grammophon in late 2006. In May 1978, the Israel Philharmonic played two U.S. concerts under his direction to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Orchestra under that name. On consecutive nights, the Orchestra, with the Choral Arts Society of Washington, performed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Bernstein's Chichester Psalms at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and at Carnegie Hall in New York.

1979

In 1979, Bernstein conducted the Berlin Philharmonic for the first time, in two charity concerts for Amnesty International involving performances of Mahler's Ninth Symphony. The invitation for the concerts had come from the orchestra and not from its principal conductor Herbert von Karajan. There has been speculation about why Karajan never invited Bernstein to conduct his orchestra. (Karajan did conduct the New York Philharmonic during Bernstein's tenure.) The full reasons will probably never be known—reports suggest they were on friendly terms when they met, but sometimes practiced a little mutual one-upmanship. One of the concerts was broadcast on radio and was posthumously released on CD by Deutsche Grammophon. One oddity of the recording is that the trombone section fails to enter at the climax of the finale, as a result of an audience member fainting just behind the trombones a few seconds earlier.

1980

Bernstein received the Kennedy Center Honors award in 1980. For the rest of the 1980s he continued to conduct, teach, compose, and produce the occasional TV documentary. His most significant compositions of the decade were probably his opera A Quiet Place, which he wrote with Stephen Wadsworth and which premiered (in its original version) in Houston in 1983; his Divertimento for Orchestra; his Ḥalil for flute and orchestra; his Concerto for Orchestra "Jubilee Games"; and his song cycle Arias and Barcarolles, which was named after a comment President Dwight D. Eisenhower had made to him in 1960.

1982

In 1982 in the U.S., PBS aired an 11-part series of Bernstein's late 1970s films for Unitel of the Vienna Philharmonic playing all nine Beethoven symphonies and various other Beethoven works. Bernstein gave spoken introduction and actor Maximilian Schell was also featured on the programs, reading from Beethoven's letters. The original films have since been released on DVD by Deutsche Grammophon. In addition to conducting in New York, Vienna and Israel, Bernstein was a regular guest conductor of other orchestras in the 1980s. These included the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, with whom he recorded Mahler's First, Fourth, and Ninth Symphonies amongst other works; the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, with whom he recorded Wagner's Tristan und Isolde; Haydn's Creation; Mozart's Requiem and Great Mass in C minor; and the orchestra of Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, with whom he recorded some Debussy and Puccini's La bohème.

In 1982, he and Ernest Fleischmann founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute as a summer training academy along the lines of Tanglewood. Bernstein served as artistic director and taught conducting there until 1984. Around the same time, he performed and recorded some of his own works with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Deutsche Grammophon. Bernstein was also at the time a committed supporter of nuclear disarmament. In 1985 he took the European Community Youth Orchestra in a "Journey for Peace" tour across Europe and Japan.

1984

In 1984, he conducted a recording of West Side Story, the first time he had conducted the entire work. The recording, featuring what some critics felt were miscast opera singers such as Kiri Te Kanawa, José Carreras, and Tatiana Troyanos in the leading roles, was nevertheless an international bestseller. A TV documentary The Making of West Side Story about the recording was made at the same time and has been released as a DVD. Bernstein also continued to make his own TV documentaries during the 1980s, including The Little Drummer Boy, in which he discussed the music of Gustav Mahler, perhaps the composer he was most passionately interested in, and The Love of Three Orchestras, in which he discussed his work in New York, Vienna, and Israel.

1985

In total Bernstein was awarded 16 Grammys for his recordings in various categories, including several for posthumously released recordings. He was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1985.

1987

During summer 1987, he celebrated the 100th anniversary of Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau. He gave a masterclass inside the castle of Fontainebleau.

1989

In December 1989, Bernstein conducted live performances and recorded in the studio his operetta Candide with the London Symphony Orchestra. The recording starred Jerry Hadley, June Anderson, Adolph Green, and Christa Ludwig in the leading roles. The use of opera singers in some roles perhaps fitted the style of operetta better than some critics had thought was the case for West Side Story, and the posthumously released recording was universally praised. One of the live concerts from the Barbican Centre in London is available on DVD. Candide had had a troubled history, with many rewrites and writers involved. Bernstein's concert and recording were based on a final version that had been first performed by Scottish Opera in 1988. The opening night, which Bernstein attended in Glasgow, was conducted by his former student John Mauceri.

On December 25, 1989, Bernstein conducted Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in East Berlin's Schauspielhaus as part of a celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He had conducted the same work in West Berlin the previous day. The concert was broadcast live in more than twenty countries to an estimated audience of 100 million people. For the occasion, Bernstein reworded Friedrich Schiller's text of the Ode to Joy, using the word Freiheit (freedom) instead of the original Freude (joy). Bernstein, in his spoken introduction, said that they had "taken the liberty" of doing this because of a "most likely phony" story, apparently believed in some quarters, that Schiller wrote an "Ode to Freedom" that is now presumed lost. Bernstein added, "I'm sure that Beethoven would have given us his blessing."

1990

Bernstein conducted his final performance on August 19, 1990 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. The program consisted of Benjamin Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. He suffered a coughing fit during the third movement of the Beethoven symphony, but continued to conduct the piece until its conclusion, leaving the stage during the ovation, appearing exhausted and in pain. The concert was later issued in edited form on CD as Leonard Bernstein – The Final Concert by Deutsche Grammophon. Also included was Bernstein's own Arias and Barcarolles in an orchestration by Bright Sheng. However, poor health prevented Bernstein from performing it. Carl St. Clair was engaged to conduct it in his stead.

Bernstein announced his retirement from conducting on October 9, 1990, and died at his apartment at The Dakota of a heart attack five days later, brought on by mesothelioma. He was 72 years old. A longtime heavy smoker, he had had emphysema from his mid-50s. On the day of his funeral procession through the streets of Manhattan, construction workers removed their hats and waved, calling out "Goodbye, Lenny". Bernstein is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, next to his wife and with a copy of Mahler's Fifth Symphony lying across his heart. On August 25, 2018 (his 100th birthday), he was honored with a Google Doodle. Also for his centennial, the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles created an exhibition titled Leonard Bernstein at 100.

Among the many awards Bernstein earned throughout his life, one allowed him to make one of his philanthropic dreams a reality. He had for a long time wanted to develop an international school to help promote the integration of arts into education. When he won the Praemium Imperiale, Japan Arts Association award for lifetime achievement in 1990, he used the $100,000 that came with the award to build such a school in Nashville, that would strive to teach teachers how to better integrate music, dance, and theater into the school system which was "not working". Unfortunately, the school was not able to open until shortly after Bernstein's death. This would eventually yield an initiative known as Artful Learning as part of the Leonard Bernstein Center.

1992

In the same year, Bernstein received the Praemium Imperiale, an international prize awarded by the Japan Arts Association for lifetime achievement in the arts. Bernstein used the $100,000 prize to establish The Bernstein Education Through the Arts (BETA) Fund, Inc. He provided this grant to develop an arts-based education program. The Leonard Bernstein Center was established in April 1992, and initiated extensive school-based research, resulting in the Bernstein Model, the Leonard Bernstein Artful Learning Program.

1993

The Chichester Psalms, and excerpts from his Third Symphony and MASS were performed for Pope John Paul II, including at World Youth Day in Denver on August 14, 1993, and at the Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah on April 7, 1994, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the Sala Nervi at the Vatican. Both performances were conducted by Gilbert Levine.

2010

Bernstein recorded extensively from the mid-1940s until just a few months before his death. Aside from those 1940s recordings, which were made for RCA Victor, Bernstein recorded primarily for Columbia Masterworks Records, especially when he was music director of the New York Philharmonic between 1958 and 1971. His typical pattern of recording at that time was to record major works in the studio immediately after they were presented in the orchestra's subscription concerts or on one of the Young People's Concerts, with any spare time used to record short orchestral showpieces and similar works. Many of these performances were digitally remastered and reissued by Sony Classical Records (the successor to American Columbia/CBS Masterworks following Sony's 1990 acquisition of Columbia/CBS Records) between 1992 and 1993 as part of its 100 volume, 125-CD "Royal Edition", as well as its 1997–2001 "Bernstein Century" series. The rights to Bernstein's 1940s RCA Victor recordings became fully owned by Sony following its 2008 acquisition of Bertelsmann Music Group's (BMG), and now controls both the RCA Victor and Columbia archives. The complete Bernstein Columbia and RCA Victor catalog was reissued on CD in a three-volume series of box sets (released in 2010, 2014, and 2018, respectively) comprising a total of 198 discs under the mantle "Leonard Bernstein Edition".

2015

Leonard Bernstein is also a member of both the American Theater Hall of Fame, and the Television Hall of Fame. In 2015 he was inducted into the Legacy Walk.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Leonard Bernstein is 103 years, 10 months and 5 days old. Leonard Bernstein will celebrate 104th birthday on a Thursday 25th of August 2022.

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