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Bernstein, Leonard

Born: Lawrence, MA, 25 Aug 1918
Died: New York, 14 Oct 1990
Nationality: American composer and pianist

He studied at Harvard and the Curtis Institute and was a protégé of Koussevitzky. In 1944 he made his reputation as a conductor when he stepped in when Bruno Walter was ill; thereafter he was associated particularly with the Israel PO(from 1947), the Boston SO and the New York PO (musical director, 1958-69), soon achieving an international reputation, conducting in Vienna and at La Scala. During his tenure the New York PO flourished as never before. A gifted pianist, he often performed simultaneously as soloist and conductor. At the same time, he pursued a career as a composer, cutting across the boundaries between high and popular culture in his mixing of Mahler and Broadway, Copland and Bach. His theatre works are mostly in the Broadway manner: they include the ballet "Fancy Free" (1944) and the musicals "Candide" (1956) and "West Side Story" (1957). His more ambitious works, many of them couched in a richly chromatic, intense post-Mahlerian idiom, often have a religious inspiration, for example the "'Jeremiah' Symphony" with mezzo (1942), "Kaddish," with soloists and choirs (1963) and the theatre piece "Mass" (1971).

Selected Works Include:

  • Trouble in Tahiti (1952), rev. as A Quiet Place (1983)
  • On the Town (1944)
  • Wonderful Town (1953)
  • Candide (1956)
  • West Side Story (1957)
Other dramatic music
  • Fancy Free, ballet (1944)
  • Facsimile, ballet (1946)
  • On the Waterfront, film score (1954)
  • Mass, theatre piece (1971)
  • Dybbuk, ballet (1974)
Orchestral and choral music
  • Sym. no.1, "Jeremiah" (1942)
  • Sym. no.2, "The Age of Anxiety" (1949)
  • Prelude, Fugue and Riffs, cl, jazz ens (1949)
  • Serenade, vn, str, harp, perc (1954)
  • Sym. no.3, "Kaddish" (1963)
  • Chichester Psalms (1965)
  • Slava!, ov. (1977)
  • Songfest (1977)
  • Divertimento (1980)
  • Halil (1981)
Chamber and instrumental music
  • Cl Sonata (1942)
  • Seven Anniversaries, pf (1943)
  • Four Anniversaries, pf (1948)
  • Brass Music (1948)
  • Five Anniversaries, pf (1954)
  • Touches, pf (1981)
Solo vocal music
  • I Hate Music (1943)
  • La bonne cuisine (1947)
  • Two Love Songs (1949)
  • Piccola serenata (1979)

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