Transcript:

Speaker Let's start talking about dog dog. I don't know what it is about Bernstein's and dogs, I really don't. It's like sirens and dogs. You got to have them around. It's it's just always been an unquestionable fact of life. You got to have dogs. Other people have cats. Bernstein's have dogs. We've been lucky in having some pretty amazing specimens. This one right here, Georgie, is one of the all time great doggies. Jamie's dog, Shiloh, Alexander's dog, Tabasco has some problems, but we love her anyway.

Speaker But before all of these dogs, Daddy had a string of dogs, beginning with Franny and Zooey. And after the Sallinger characters, they were.

Speaker His and her standard poodles, I think this was back in the 50s, this is long before I was around, but many stories about Franny and Zooey and their adventures, then there were many dachshunds, Henry, and there were Henry's one, two, three and four. There were four in a row again, all before I was born. So the stuff of legend as far as the family goes and there's a very famous story about having purchased Henry in France. The very first Henry was purchased in France when Shirley was along on the trip, and they had to register him on the manifest of on their flight back home. And they put down three BERNSTINE Now, Ari Berenstein, I don't know this author, but apparently he was quite a well-known author at the time. And when they landed at Idlewild, which was at the time, there was this congregation of reporters and daddy thought, oh, look how look how wonderful, you know, my public and came off the plane and they couldn't care less about him.

Speaker They wanted to see Are you Berenstein?

Speaker And of course, was the dog. So that's part of the family dog lore.

Speaker One of the NYPD issues I talked to kept me from telling the story of her letting her dog that just complete with nothing. And it was driving me crazy, huh?

Speaker And Brian, what year he brought them in and he wanted to pull him off. He just was untrainable. There is one musician, Checker's, and they really sneaky unappeased.

Speaker Of course, there were many hippies, but maybe was Beebees Dog. Four, yeah, I don't think Daddy ever had a hippie. I think he was always there were three hippies and they were all babies. And when they died in their turns, daddy wrote them elegies and very beautiful pieces. They are two.

Speaker Fred, wonderful, needed to be there with you. Let's talk a little bit about you, your growing up and we've talked a lot about the collective experience. Yeah. How do you think your growing up experiences are different from you? I mean, what are your thoughts, your personal growing up?

Speaker Oh, gee, you know, I'm I'm so much younger than either of my siblings that for me, I arrived to a very.

Speaker Finished product, in a way, a baked cake to which I was an. A garnish, if you like, maybe that's a little unfair, but that's the way it felt to me often. They were perfect, for example, tennis foursome. Where did I fit into this word games, Jamie Alexander already plugged in to the word game canasta. Culture.

Speaker Who was going to teach me how was I going to pick it up? I had to by the seat of my pants, that's all there is to it. And by dint of sheer stubbornness, I did. But it was it was hard.

Speaker It was hard because by the time you were born, the pressures your father was so famous and the pressures of his schedule and touring and your mother being Mrs. Bernstein, all that left less time than when Jane, you know, the differences were.

Speaker Oh, I think they were tired in general. I think by the time I was 10. They were really tired and it was the 70s, it was an unforgiving decade in every respect for everyone, I'm fond of saying that the 70s spared no one and it certainly didn't spare us. They didn't spare us and they didn't spare me. It was a hard time to live. It was a hard time to grow up. The 60s, because of the optimism of the 60s, had ended in such disappointment and there was no where to look for leadership politically and socially. All of the great heroes had been killed. Daddy grew very depressed. Let me get very depressed and the lightness and the golden ness of of the family that had existed during the 50s and 60s, which I perceive through the whole movies and through. Stories and legend had disappeared or had had been extinguished, lowered by the time 70s rolled around, and it was not it was not the happiest time around here. I got to say so I had a very different growing up experience than Jamie and Alexander did. Which is not to say there weren't moments of great joy, of course there were, but I'm saying that it didn't have that magical.

Speaker Oh, I was just impregnable feeling.

Speaker That they that they grew up with I mean, when you look at those home movies from the 50s and 60s, the especially the Martha's Vineyard sections, you get the sense of this magic circle, this special group of people who nobody could touch, you know, and if you were part of their circle, you were it and you never wanted to leave. And why would you be such fun?

Speaker And you had this feeling that everything they did was right from when they were serious to when they were goofy. It everything they touched was gold, you know, extraordinary daddy's music. Everything he wrote was a success.

Speaker You got it all wrong. Mummy was exquisite. She was universally admired and there was nobody who did not love my mother. Kind of an extraordinary thing.

Speaker And when they would have people over, I remember off for Bichel telling me that I asked her, what would you do of an evening on the vineyard? And she said that, you know, all these famous poets were there and famous writers of all kinds. And and so what would you do?

Speaker And, you know, we would play sardines. We we would get in the closet, would roar with laughter. And I'm thinking, oh, my God, you guys were nuts. You were so goofy. But but of course, what else are you going to do after dinner on the vineyard, what you did for fun?

Speaker And I could imagine Lillian Hellman even playing sardines, a woman of such seriousness and hardness of character. I bet she even lightened up.

Speaker When did you first become aware of Warren and later and you at what point did you begin to be aware that your growing up experience was, in fact, that the atmosphere was different, that there was room?

Speaker Probably.

Speaker After the summer in Italy, because there were elements about that summer in Italy that were similar to the golden age of.

Speaker At least as far as I was concerned, I had the sense that I was part of something very special. I had inklings. I was six, OK? I had inklings that not everybody was happy. Daddy wasn't sleeping well. Mommy was furious for one reason or another. There's the famous story where she she had been painting a lot that summer is how she got through it, painted and painted and painted. And then one day she got so fed up, she threw all of her paintings into the sea and Alexander had to go and fish them out. But yes, there were moments of of disquiet. But you still had. I still had the sense that. We were special and. Magical. Somehow we were being photographed for this book, you know, we were very much for. The camera, very, very much it was it's a curious thing, you know, because the minute you put a camera on the family and ask them to be themselves.

Speaker It's it's a curious dichotomy that goes on very interesting dialectic there of this is us in private. But we're doing it for the public. And inevitably persona's. Get put on and so there was very much of that going on that summer, but I loved it as a little girl. It was great fun. But I think after that, I realized that something was different.

Speaker And why was your mother so angry?

Speaker I really don't know. In general, the public private must have been always, in a way, a conflict that and particularly and by extension, the family live so much in public. Do you feel there was, in fact, a dichotomy between the public planning and by extension?

Speaker Oh, sure.

Speaker And probably.

Speaker Oh.

Speaker That much greater because. Of how public the public persona was so that when he would come home, when we would be just us here in this house, it was it almost took on this fevered pitch of private ness. I think that's why all the private jokes, all the private languages, all the references that we that we have in our hour need to be that close. Some would say pathologically close.

Speaker It is to counteract the public persona that we have.

Speaker You have to have something like the equivalent of circling the wagons, if you like.

Speaker And that's I mean, it's just my observation. I can absolutely agree. And so.

Speaker Yeah. And I'm sure it's not you don't have to be a psychology genius to figure that out, but.

Speaker Like it or lump it, that's that's what it is.

Speaker You mentioned that your father was depressed in the 70s. Mm hmm. How how did that manifest itself, both in terms of his personality and his work?

Speaker Hmm.

Speaker I think all of I'm going to say I'm going to make a bold, general statement here and say that. All of his pieces. We have a couple of exceptions, but all of his pieces after Kurdish, Kurdish included, took on an introspective.

Speaker Abstract quality. Were markedly different from things that had come before that followed a narrative line.

Speaker I guess not an age of anxiety, not in Jeremiah, but I think in the theater work, mass quiet place really. Really had a quality of working something through working out something that bothered him in a very deep place.

Speaker Questions of doubt, questions of. Rage against fate and against time and against circumstance and. As opposed to something.

Speaker I don't know, like candied.

Speaker Which is so. Direct, in a way. It's it's about this and it follows this line and it has this thematic material and it does that job beautifully, but I think the later work reflects this quietness in him.

Speaker How do you respond to those?

Speaker There are moments of exquisite beauty. In Mass, which is one of my favorite pieces. I was 11 when it premiered in Washington. Of course, I didn't get it in its entirety, but I got it enough so that when the record came out, I listened to nothing else. I remember having friends over for the weekend.

Speaker We'd come here and I'd say, well, listen, Matt Adrover, I was a mess. But I but they learned to do and they grew to love it, too. There's exquisite music in there. Yes. I have a very personal connection to this because you gone through birth.

Speaker Sure. You talk a little bit about the birth of the birth of mass in terms of your experience of life.

Speaker I remember being aware that daddy was in a form of torture. He would arrive from the studio, he absolutely knackered, and he'd sit down at dinner and would barely be able to say anything, which by God was uncommon, you knew something was wrong if Daddy wasn't talking. And I remember asking him once, I said.

Speaker I bet you'll be so happy when you don't have to write this piece anymore, you hate it, don't you? I looked amazing.

Speaker No, not at all. Like, my God, it's my piece. It's my baby. I love it.

Speaker And I went away thinking. That's funny. That's all right.

Speaker I guess the compositional process is not a simple one and OK, something about artist's creation created equal pain. OK. File that away for later. And certainly creation for him was pain. Maybe that's the difference. Maybe the the creative process before.

Speaker 1960, whatever it was, was not quite so painful. Maybe that's what it was, but of course, I didn't know him, so I can't say, but it certainly seemed to me that pieces that I observed him writing cost him a good deal of. Pain, discomfort, anxiety, you know, all nine yards.

Speaker It actually raises a question of whether the process became more painful because.

Speaker As somebody said last night, he was finding it hard to find the notes or whether, in fact, it was a state of mind that he was in more Mr. Franklin was in the 60s, that certain. And I mean, that's really interesting. I hadn't actually thought of that. That that that what he needed to say as he became less optimistic was more difficult to say.

Speaker OK, I think that it's quite possible that after a certain point when things became sour in general in the 1960s after the assassinations, what he had to say became more difficult to say because it was not imbued with optimism the way it had been in the 50s and early 60s.

Speaker He didn't want to have to say it if if you know what I mean, but he had to.

Speaker Because it bothered him a lot, which is it raises again, the question of already I was obviously of the school that Art had to speak to you in some way.

Speaker Oh, it had to move you. Art was was never a removed, aloof business. Art had to grab you by the intestines. And you caused you some emotional reaction. Whether tears or belly laughs or. That kind of disquiet that wakes you up in the middle of the night and you don't know why, whatever it is, he he was of the school, that yes, that's what art has to do to you. Otherwise, it's useless.

Speaker But it seems also to be connected with a desire.

Speaker I mean, there are people who feel that art needs to address the big questions of why. I mean, we are moved by Mozart completely.

Speaker That Mozart in their message, if you misunderstand. I don't think daddy believed that art had to have a social agenda in order to be successful. Far from it. I think one of the great things about the Norton lectures is how he points out. Why certain music? Is artistically successful for musical reasons, why it is moving for musical reasons. That was a big discovery for me when I first went through the Norton lectures.

Speaker It was an AHA.

Speaker It doesn't have to have a narrative line, it doesn't have to have a referent, a literary referent, it can be moving and have meaning. Meaning.

Speaker For musical reasons, that's big and I and I think a lot of his work has meaning for musical reasons. As well as extra musical reasons, that's terrific, as wonderful as the best explanation of the Norton lectures anybody's given.

Speaker Oh, well, that's only one thing in the Norton lectures that's thrilling. But it was a big one for me. Did you attend?

Speaker Did you go? Were you there? I was too young. I only I only said I was terrified of the Norton lectures for years. I thought, it's egghead stuff. I can't go near it. Little did I know that it's really for the layman. I didn't realize that. So when I finally forced myself to sit down and watch the things I was. I was so touched by. How how accessible they were, I thought, what a nice man, what a nice man to put this complicated material in terms that I can understand that someone who is not a musician, not a musicologist, can understand what a great service he's doing us. Thanks, Dad.

Speaker That is very much part and parcel of land, his legacy.

Speaker Absolutely. But in terms of the communication to the public. I mean, money's seemed to me that you could look at my overall goal that many had, which it was the simplest, most simplistic terms was to bring people to see this music, me to make that connection, if he could have sat down with each and every member of the human race.

Speaker And lectured extensively on matters, musical, literary, etc., he would happily have done so. If they listen, it infused this whole thing.

Speaker Yeah, luckily he had television and he didn't have to sit down with them individually. He could actually talk to them all at the same time.

Speaker And that was a big advance.

Speaker We're lucky some of your most personal moments when I read somewhere that your son was entangled with you.

Speaker Oh, yeah. You had him. Yeah. He's always young.

Speaker I think I heard you said and yeah, very much to yourself, it was a it was a really lucky combination of circumstances where I had finally gotten old enough to have real conversations with Daddy. And that he would have these two week sessions at Tanglewood and this wonderful house that he would rent and a Great Barrington in that area and I would go and Jamie and Alexander, for whatever reasons, wouldn't come until the concert weekend, but I would make a special effort to go for the entire time. And that's really when I got the best of Daddy. It's when he was.

Speaker Happiest Tanglewood really did something magical to him, whatever dump's he may have been in, he would arrive at Tanglewood. He would take one big lungful of that air and he would be 19 again and. He was miraculous, and I didn't mind all of a sudden that he was over lecturing or that he was keeping me up till 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning explaining things to me, because that was that was the fun. You know, there were moments of that it is time to go to bed. Oh, no, but we've just scratched the surface of this wonderful whatever it would be, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, whatever. And you would say you'll be glad one day that you didn't get the sleep, that you actually sat through this. You can do this. What years with you? Oh, I would say early 80s.

Speaker Yeah, early 80s. It would have was after you. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I remember Mummy died when I was 16, so it wasn't till 1980 that I went to college and then 84 I graduated.

Speaker So it would have been in through there like 83, 84, 85, 86, 86 was the year that the famous Midori broken string event happened. Oh boy. What a what about a concert? Midori was 14 at the time. I remember meeting her and saying, how can she even pick up a violin, much less play it with that fervor, that passion her.

Speaker It seemed to me that her hands were bigger than her entire frame. She was.

Speaker To me, she was a little girl with these hands and her fiddle wasn't even full sized at the time, she was still using a three quarter and she was playing serenade. A piece of such devilish complexity only really the great masters of the violin can approach this thing. And here was this peanut. And she played with I mean, you really thought you saw smoke coming off the strings, it was that intense and so intense. Was it that towards the end she broke a string? I mean, the thing just sproing. Without missing a beat, this girl is 14, OK, she turns to the concertmaster, gives him her fiddle, takes his without missing a bar, keeps playing, everybody does. OK, we're back on track. Amazing. The kid is still playing.

Speaker Three minutes later, sproing, another string breaks.

Speaker And once again, someone had been fixing the string of her original fiddle, but it wasn't ready yet, and so there was this mad round robin of fiddles, give me whatever you got.

Speaker And she was right there without missing a beat. I think there was I think that he just held. For a second while she dealt with it. And then resumed.

Speaker And by this time, there was not a dry seat in the House.

Speaker This sort of later or was that the recording?

Speaker No, that was never recorded. That wasn't recorded with her?

Speaker No, I don't think so. But she wasn't recording in those days. She was she was only performing, but that she was on the front page of The New York Times.

Speaker You bet. That was a big deal and that incredible poise that was at Tanglewood.

Speaker You bet he must have respond.

Speaker I mean, he must've I've seen footage of this and I know. Yeah.

Speaker And it's amazing enough to see the actual sequence of events. But what really gets you is watching Daddy's reaction. After it's all over and she gets there and she's done it brilliantly, I mean, under the under normal circumstances, it would have been an incredible feat.

Speaker And it's over, and he puts down his baton and he gives her the bear hug of all time. Sure, it's you know, he just.

Speaker Does you think you is he would say.

Speaker Oh, um, he was so proud of her.

Speaker That's wonderful. Yeah, um.

Speaker I think for those. Musicians in the know they resent having things shown to them of.

Speaker I remember some of the Schonberg criticism from the 60s read that what is this Bernstine think we are that he feels we need to be shown and explained every modulation, every crescendo, every diminuendo. And there was this tone of real resentment about it. But you see that he felt that people did need to be shown. And again, he wasn't doing it so much for the eggheads as he was for Neomi.

Speaker It was about people.

Speaker And I think that's one of his lasting contributions, the orchestra's ten point.

Speaker I wonder, I wonder I don't know, I don't think no, I think they had more fun being conducted by him than just about anybody else otherwise.

Speaker You know, you just saw a. You know what? Time's the break, Harry? A lot of times that he actually got orchestras around the world to forget that there were unions and that there were there was such a thing as overtime and that that and that's what it was all about for him.

Speaker You know what I'd like to talk a little bit about, because it would be great for the set up, a lot of people kind of get a sense of the relationship. You really had a very tight family and an extended family. Yeah.

Speaker Can you talk a little bit about that extended family who was in those relationships were particularly focusing on Mindy and adult? Sure.

Speaker I guess part of.

Speaker The clustering of the family included.

Speaker The. Extended family.

Speaker As well, it was when we clustered, it could just as easily have included Mendi, Ofra, Phyllis, Adolph, Betty, all the aunts and uncles. Of course there were there was that was really the family of Mike Nichols, Dick Avedon, the near and dear. And they were they were as much a part of things around here and in New York is as anybody like Menlyn. Sorry if you had a lapse. No, there were very important people in our lives and continue to be, which is wonderful. I think a lot of people would have said or might have predicted that after mommy and daddy died that we would have lost touch with these people.

Speaker And on the contrary, we've really remained very close with them. Um, maybe more so in Daddy and Mommy's absence. We love them so dearly.

Speaker What it's you know, this is one thing that we be worry about, just about everything I didn't write a lot about. Directly write about these friendships, and it's clear in his letters that he had this big group, but I would love to hear what you think when you look for a friend and how somebody.

Speaker Who is a good listener, someone who.

Speaker Someone who had that innate curiosity that need to learn things and find out about things and someone who wasn't afraid to really dig and talk about stuff and stuff can mean anything. It can mean that the secrets of canasta to philosophy and the mysteries of the cosmos, really, but it had intellectual curiosity was the cornerstone of any friendship and relationship that daddy had.

Speaker Would you say was best? That's just impossible, it's impossible to say. I think Mummy was his best friend for a very long time.

Speaker Oh, Shirley, baby Adolf Mendi, at any of these people and others, it's impossible to say because you're.

Speaker Yeah, I'm not surprised. You just not a whole lot.

Speaker But it's just talk a little bit about his relationship. You're doing a big interview with them, but you guys, in terms of the set up so that he doesn't say it's funny, I don't know that I can really enlighten you about it off.

Speaker And that is friendship very much, because my experience of it was always in a public reference where it would be about jokes and again, the private references and musical. Stuff, so it was all very much for public appreciation and I don't know what they talked about privately. I think there was probably a lot of the same. But when they got down to it and they must have because otherwise there would there would not have been that closeness with daddy. I really I really don't know. I mean, that was between them. But obviously it was something terribly rich and defying of.

Speaker Of definition.

Speaker Largely, can you talk about your parents relationship, which you observed about the.

Speaker I saw two very good friends.

Speaker It's really hard for me, I don't I don't know that I can. I can be succinct about it. I don't know if I can give you a sound bite on this. It's a little it's a little complicated.

Speaker Obviously, they had a tremendously complicated relationship which was full of love and full of questions and unresolved issues. What was clear from the get go for me was that they were mad about each other. That was obvious and so that even when it got bad and they separated, it was clear that they were crazy about each other. And they did get back together, albeit briefly. There's must be very much, in your mind, a split between one before your mother died, right after that.

Speaker Oh, yeah, talk about that in terms of effecting have already changed. Oh, boy, do I have to. This is a toughie. Let me see if there's a way I can talk about this.

Speaker And.

Speaker It's such a complicated question.

Speaker Um, maybe, uh, maybe Jamie would do better with this. I think maybe Jimmy would do better with this.

Speaker You've had a very special relationship with Lenny after the left because you were I was the only one home. And you talk a little bit about that.

Speaker And I know that you kind of. Connected in a very interesting way. Yeah, yeah, well, after Mummy died, I was the only one who was home. Jamie and Alexander were both either at college or Jamie graduated by then, of course. Of course she had. And she was living away from home. And I am Daddy and I were basically alone in the house with Julia. And it was it became kind of sweet.

Speaker Oh, we we discovered each other in a very gentle and touching way as Daddy had gone off to Mexico for some, I guess, from R and R and had run into Richard Burton of all people who had just remarried and was in terrific shape.

Speaker And they hung out and started talking about King Lear. Daddy came home full of ideas about wanting to direct Richard Burton in a production of King Lear. God Help US. And I was all of 17 years old and even I knew this was probably a bad idea. But nonetheless, I had been studying King Lear at school. And it was it was a nice coincidence because Daddy and I sat down with with the the script, with the book and started to go over it.

Speaker And he gave me his ideas about Lear and was all about Lear's mid-life crisis. He projected all kinds of things onto this play. And I, of course, was fascinated because not my teacher at school, brilliant though they were. We're certainly not talking about Lear's mid-life crisis, especially with respect to his relationship with his daughters. And so I was very, very interested in all of this and took it to school and got A's on everything because, yes, I was applying such interesting theories to this to this play.

Speaker But so Daddy and I discovered each other and he he discovered that I had a mind. And. We really we really hit it off.

Speaker It was nice, it was referred to by the great love affair between Leonard Bernstein and his daughter, Nina. Yeah, for a while there, he was taking me to all the events that he'd get invited to. I was his date. And that was fun because, again, it was all about private jokes in the face of whatever stupid event it was. You would have to be there. You'd have to be there in black tie. There were photographers in your face and he would lean over and would say whatever, and we would crack up and. And you knew that everything was OK, that you were solid.

Speaker That wasn't that was that was a cool time. I was going to ask you to tell me Jimmy Carter's story that I actually don't think I would use it.

Speaker But it's a great story. A story about Jimmy Carter. Yeah, it is. What a nice man.

Speaker I really I love that story. I got a whole new take on it because I really thought it showed an insight and a real sensitivity.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker Well, he won my vote that year, but you and you had that kind of role reversal for a while there.

Speaker Oh yeah. When I was again living at the Dakota and he was living at the Dakota and he came out of after Mommy died, he he felt pretty lousy for a long time. He finally snapped out of it. And resumed his partying ways and would get invited to parties in Studio 54. This was, of course, the golden age of disco. We're talking about the late 70s. And I was in high school and daddy would go out at night and I would be home and I would I would hear myself. I'd say this is peculiar. I'd hear myself saying, now, daddy, don't stay out too late. And mind you, you you behave yourself.

Speaker I don't know. I don't want to see no pictures of the maestro with his shirt off dancing on tables at Studio 54. And he'd say, oh, go give me a break. And, you know, it's the total role reversal. He'd go off.

Speaker And sure enough, the next day in The New York Post, there would be that picture of the shirtless maestro and the kids.

Speaker What are you going to worry about him?

Speaker And did you worry that they only later. Only later. The touring of the 80s really do a number on him when he would come home from one of these European marathons, it would be obvious that he had not been taking care of himself at all. And you knew exactly in what ways you would not take care of yourself because sometimes you actually went on these tours and you observed it, the man didn't sleep. He ate rich food at weird hours. He drank scotch, he smoked endlessly. And all of these added up to a very bad case of usually bronchitis when he would come home and.

Speaker Sometimes it got so bad, I really did worry and eventually it got so bad that he died of.

Speaker When he came home from.

Speaker Berlin, the Wall concert, I get my chronology mixed up here, but Christmas 89 was going into 90. He had just done Candide at the Barbican where everybody had had the flu. And I guess he also had had it but had worked through it. And then he went directly to Berlin. I think that was the chronology. And he he pushed himself so hard, came home, was very, very sick. But in a lot of ways, you said to yourself, seen this before, he'll snap out of it like last time. And he didn't. He just got progressively worse and worse. Why do you think he pushed him? There was a lot of music to be made, there were there were people to be touched. And. He said he wasn't going to not do that simply to take care of himself. Those were not his priorities. Different. You call it narcissism, if you like, but he really did feel that he had a sacred duty to this business of making music for people, and he was propelled.

Speaker To do it, he was also the story of such extraordinary proportions that he. What came simple, a very good sense, and so. If anybody was going to be asked to conduct.

Speaker Well, precisely. It's going to be Libres. That's right. And you can't say I have the flu, I can't go. Well, maybe so. Yeah, I know. I know.

Speaker Can you how can you say this? He had by that time become such an icon of music. And also of international, what would you say of peacemaking because he had done so much work for peace throughout his life and for social change, and he was quite outspoken about these things when the Berlin Wall came down, he wasn't about to not do something there simply because he wasn't feeling well. My God, the Berlin Wall has come down, of course you do Beethoven's Ninth and you ask members of the Vienna Philharmonic and of the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra. And I forget which of the other orchestra forgive me, but you ask those members to participate and they will do it and you will make a record and you will push yourself because this is big.

Speaker And you don't just bow out because you don't feel well. That's what you multiply that and you do, and if every time. Is of that importance, that level of importance, then you start running yourself ragged.

Speaker Looking back on it, I can see how he got himself into the.

Speaker Where he was over it, I think he was definitely over scheduled, and I think the ego had quite a lot to do with it. I think there must have been bits of how can I not go? How will they live without me? You know, because not everything was on the level of importance of the Berlin Wall. Let's face it, you know, the music own doing Beethoven at the music world is pretty darn important, but the Viennese will get over it if you don't go but know the Viennese will never get off. If I don't go and I'll never be asked back in that way, I would be I would be doing them such a disservice. So I think, yeah, some ego had to do with that.

Speaker That's appropriate. That I mean, when he did try to realize this, I didn't try to get out of things. His response was terrible, I guess.

Speaker Yeah. People did not words. People did not like him to cancel.

Speaker He was a big draw for business reasons. It was a I mean, from the from the point of view of the inviting institution, it was a disaster of Leonard Bernstein canceled on their season.

Speaker And understand that you've got your mom and dad again, how are they different? And in terms of your. Up there, right? What were the roles? Oh.

Speaker You might say that Mummy played superego to Daddy's ID, I don't know if that makes sense, but she if anybody if there was anybody who could put a curb on his craziness and his wild behavior, it was mummy. And I guess later on after she died, when I would try to I was trying to fill that role without much success. But I would try so she would try to put the brakes on him sometimes if it was really getting out of hand. She, for example, would say.

Speaker You are not leaving the house wearing that jacket with those pants, you know, and, oh, really, it does.

Speaker So let me pick you another jacket and, you know, so it was she played that role to him and that worked out very nicely because she was. The arbiter of all taste, she nobody questioned her on matters of taste ever.

Speaker Later on. I found some trunks of of her old clothes and I open them up and there were some awful things in there and I thought maybe you had a lapse. You weren't perfect after all.

Speaker Imagine your mother was an artist. Yes, she was very, very fine one.

Speaker Of course, taking things that you of OK. OK.

Speaker She was an artist in her own right, a painter. It became really, I think, very, very fun painting. And she was, in fact, despite how you didn't think it was very good.

Speaker She was promising you or something and told something like that.

Speaker Yeah.

Speaker And yet being Mr. Burnstone was picked up and the whole kitchen of life in the kitchen of life, that that became so much of her occupation, that must have created a sense on some level of frustration. Yeah.

Speaker You for all this, I will try to give it a frame of very because I think, yeah, Mummy was a very fine artist in her own right visual artist as well as an actress. She had an artistic sensibility to her very finely tuned and sensitive, with a sharp mind and wit biting wit. Uh, she could be quite wicked at times. She was a bit of a mischief maker, and daddy loved that about her, too. He was very proud of his, you know, feisty little.

Speaker Children, I don't think he ever said that in his life, but I think he must have thought it he was pretty cool class act with a difference.

Speaker You know, she wasn't just blandly lovely. She had an edge to her, which is made for a very interesting character.

Speaker So, yeah, she had she she was a fine artist in her own right. But as she became Mrs. Leonard Bernstein, more and more, her activities grew to be about that almost exclusively. And she was also involved in a good many social organizations. Later, Amnesty International. I remember some prison reform organization.

Speaker She was getting herself arrested, marching in demonstrations and sit ins and the like.

Speaker There is there is a monologue by the monologist, Ruth Draper. It's called the Italian Lesson. Now, I.

Speaker I won't hope to explain what this thing is and why it has become such a part of our lives. But I will say that it's 20 minutes of you are in the boudoir of a society matron, let's say, of the 1950s. And she is having, among other things, an Italian lesson. But she becomes distracted by matters of the children, the cook, her husband's golf clubs, the the portrait painter, her son's math teacher on the telephone, the what we used to refer to as the kitchen of life, what mummy used to refer to as the kitchen of life.

Speaker This was a staple, this record. We would listen to it, I would say, if not every weekend, every other weekend, my mother was addicted to it. And one time we were listening to this here in Fairfield.

Speaker And Anita, the cook came in and she listened for a minute. She said, But Senhora, that's you. And mommy was horrified, she was horrified that she would begin to sound like this woman who.

Speaker Was really the image of superficiality.

Speaker That's what this thing was about and.

Speaker And I think mommy began and realized at that moment that that maybe was a little bit too close to her life. I saw her I saw her have a Freestore of recognition. It was it was rough, so. Did she stay with painting?

Speaker Oh, I don't take it tapered off.

Speaker I didn't actually know that. I don't know when she stopped. I don't remember her painting much after. Hmm. Somewhere around 1970.

Speaker Well, she studied with Jane Wilson and she was passionate about it and very good. I don't know. I don't know why she stopped. Well, being Mrs. Leonard Bernstein, being Mr. Bernstein, they became so public, I remember in reading.

Speaker Conversation with Karen. Talk about favorite photographs of your mom and dad in the kitchen. Oh, yeah. Which meant so much to you for a whole variety of reasons. Could you talk?

Speaker There's a I have it alongside the picture I described last night of them in glamour clothes going off to the Philharmonic. And next to it is this other picture of them in the kitchen here at Fairfield, in their in their country clothes, sweaters and jeans. And you've got one of them is holding a can opener and the other one's holding a can of soup as they're standing there like American Gothic with this can of soup. And it's so dear to me because, you know, especially next to the glamour shot, because they again, they get the joke.

Speaker They get the joke about.

Speaker Normality and, you know, here we are even playing at being normal people who open a can of soup when they're hungry because there's no cook to make them pheasant under glass today or whatever. It's just a great juxtaposition, those two pictures.

Speaker Did you know that there were autobiographical references certainly in. Work such as travel and energy, you aware that that was to some degree based on the energy?

Speaker Oh, yeah, sure. Daddy would talk to me about his parents relationship and the troubles they went through, maybe because of trouble in Tahiti. It gave him a way of talking about this terribly painful subject. I just came from looking at some early sketches for trouble in Tahiti down in Washington. And he's got some early scenarios where it was different. They were there was the bickering was more violent, much more pointed than it finally resulted in being in in the real version. And I thought of this in terms of Sam and Jenny. And of course, in the early versions, they were called Sam and Jenny, not Sam and Dinah. And I thought what a what a nightmare must have been to live through that.

Speaker And I remember him telling me he would come between them sometimes when it got quite ugly. And that must have been that must have been a real nightmare for him.

Speaker I can't help but think, well, I can't help think that that he's disappointed in his own family environment. All three of the siblings certainly view them together. Oh, sure.

Speaker And and if you know and it seems that when he really went out of his way to create the opposite in his own, I think it was one of the real driving forces in his need to to have a family of his own. That was completely different, similar in the sense of the to the togetherness that he had with his siblings.

Speaker But certainly with respect to the relationship with the elder generation, he wanted that to be very different. And he sure got his wish because we adored our parents and revered them and had fun with them. And, you know, they were they were fun as parents go were good fun.

Speaker Now, I absolutely can see that.

Speaker And I think, you know, there is the downside of having a very famous parent in their way a great deal. When I hear about your family life, I think you really had some.

Speaker Nine people died, as many were again. Yeah, well, quality versus quantity, quantity may not have been quantity may not have been that great, but quality was prime.

Speaker You could not have asked for better, so there was a depth to there to the things you talked about.

Speaker Yeah. How many people really did say that they said talked about King Lear at great length with the parents?

Speaker It's pretty amazing. I think I may take that for granted. I don't know. I think I think probably. Yes, you're right. It was unusual and special, and I am very lucky, I know I'm very lucky. But I if hmm, I think it's sad that people don't have that experience with their parents. I don't quite understand it.

Speaker Well, I mean, I but I would suspect. I think that ninety nine percent population come here. But you know what I'm saying? I know what you're saying.

Speaker That you're that you're the time you it seemed the time you spent with your parents was very much, you know, I want to get not, you know, into the kitchen of life all the time.

Speaker But there was that, too.

Speaker Who do you think your dad most admired in the world?

Speaker Yeah. Yeah. Did he have did he have heroes?

Speaker Geez, you mean living people?

Speaker I like Kennedy, of course, Martin Luther King.

Speaker Hmm. Those are the only ones that, oh, John Lennon, John Lennon was a real hero of that is he admired him a tremendous amount which pleased us. No end, you can imagine. And and we all got to meet him after we moved to the Dakota. The Dakota had an annual building party in the courtyard. And we thought, well, John Lennon. Well, John and Yoko be there. Will they? Will they, will they. And they were and we were beside ourselves. And Daddy went and introduced himself and introduced all of us. And we were we were pretty floored. And Daddy forced us to sing Moldy, Moldy Man for the moldy man himself. And that was that was all right in that relationship. I wish it had it didn't. Was he he was assassinated shortly thereafter. Well, just about everybody I've mentioned was assassinated.

Speaker That is interesting. Oh, I was just talking earlier about we talked about.

Speaker Yeah, well, he's my one of my heroes, certainly. But that's interesting, you know, because I.

Speaker You got to be you've got to be a real rebel to have made someone angry enough to take you out, and that must mean that Daddy admired rebels. And I think he liked to think of himself as one, an assassination threat, and I think they got him.

Speaker Tell me about it. The Secret Service and the extra security doesn't ring a bell.

Speaker I was barely cognizant, so I asked Jamie about that.

Speaker It was a prank call, but they didn't know the only assassination attempt. I don't think you can even call it that. The only threat on his life was an incident at Curtis' when he was a student there where there was a jealous classmate who you really think it is a strange way to go.

Speaker So jealous of his talent.

Speaker Yeah, all he was jealous of is he was jealous that he was doing so well and he couldn't believe it. It was because of his talent. I think that was he said there's got to be something fishy going on and I don't like it and it's not fair. And all of a sudden he had produced this gun.

Speaker And really, Richard, how did you did he offer so much of his career? He was referred to and thought of as the Peter Pan.

Speaker Yeah.

Speaker Wunderkind, poor guy, and then became a maestro. And the elder statesman kind of grew up. And there's a lot of writing about that sort of thing. How did you could, by the way, refer to that?

Speaker And I will do my best. How do you feel about graduating from Peter Pan?

Speaker Well, there was only there was a very small gap between Peter Pan, the Peter Pan wunderkind days and the maestro. Elder statesman, retrospective days, you see, by the time there was only a very small time in which he could enjoy having arrived at the level of maestro of that respect and veneration before. The time of the retrospectives and Leonard Bernstein festivals and the 75th birthday galas came around, at which time he was saying, But I'm not dead yet.

Speaker Why are they memorializing me? And still I've still got a lot of time left.

Speaker I have a lot of music to write. I wish it would stop it. So it seemed to go pretty quickly from wunderkind to well, in summary, he's done this and and so that he couldn't seem to win for losing and that department. But I think this was minor. I don't think he dwelled on it too much.

Speaker But if something went back to his work, what are some of the other works that. That are autobiographical. How do you how do you see how would you describe your biographical elements that appear to. Did you see it as such to talk about it?

Speaker I mean, was it a same or was it. Hmm hmm.

Speaker I think that's really the only overtly autobiographical one.

Speaker There are, of course, elements of him throughout the symphonies and mass, but only in abstract ways is his religious spiritual doubts is duking it out with his father and his spiritual father. All of that sure is in there, but it's all.

Speaker Abstract, I don't think. I don't think there's anything else that's terribly overt. Do you?

Speaker No, I just wanted you to say, oh, OK, disappointments is a disappointment in terms of response to last six and you don't have to go on at length of that.

Speaker But I'd like to get a sense of your personal observation of the disappointment in this day.

Speaker And you affected his own sense of himself. I don't.

Speaker I don't think he could help but feel taken down several pegs by the negative criticism of certain pieces.

Speaker He was a human, terminally human, after all, but I think through it all, at least he used to say there's still my pieces and I love them like children and I'll never abandon them.

Speaker I wrote them for a reason and I still believe in those reasons. And they're my babies. So he was still defending them to the end. It's just that, you know, he was sorry that other people didn't see it his way to hear them, because I can't stand the notion that he began to doubt his death anyway.

Speaker No, I don't think he ever did.

Speaker He. Is there a problem?

Speaker No, I don't think he ever doubted. His talents, he was frustrated that the notes wouldn't come and maybe in private he did, but never out loud to me that he ever say I'm washed up.

Speaker What they say is true. He never said that. Going back to the notion of level.

Speaker And it seems your dad could have had a very easy career for himself by sticking with what he knew was the most successful and and he did he to rest musically all the time. You know, I took a great risk, I think. Can you talk a little bit about.

Speaker No, daddy was never content to take the easy road. It just wasn't his style, and so he would do he would do what was unpopular. Sometimes Chichester Psalms being a perfect example of that, where the style at the time was anything but Tarnak, I should say anything but tonal.

Speaker Start that again, because that's that's an unbelievably bad mistake. Naughty tonic.

Speaker Criticisms, for example, was a very unpopular piece stylistically to have done because the style at the time was atonal and that it didn't feel like writing atonal music. He tried it didn't sound right coming out of him. He was a total kind of guy. And so he wrote that poem, which explains this beautifully poem he wrote for The New York Times about his sabbatical. And he wrote this divin piece called The Chichester Psalms, which is really yummy. Like a fine dessert, and it was met with, I think, some critical acclaim, I haven't really researched this, but among the high muckety mucks of musicology, I think it was dismissed as being lity because it was tonal and wasn't really getting into the the fray of 12 tone music, which was being done at the time, or even more avant garde stuff that was happening.

Speaker So, you know, he had to do what he had to do. I don't know if he did it just to be contrary. I don't think so, but he did what he had to do, he wrote.

Speaker It's another example.

Speaker Think a quiet place to a large degree, also met with some kind of musical dismissal as so much.

Speaker Tresh. Because it was not as gnarly as some operatic music was at the time, I you see, daddy wasn't in the business of impressing people intellectualise just for that sake. If it didn't touch their heart in some way, he had not done his job, and so to have written music, which was successful on a cerebral level alone was pointless for him.

Speaker Do you think that we've talked about things? Do you think that negative aspects or elements of thing, what was the negative impact on his life, if you think.

Speaker Hmmm, well, surely the expectations that the public had after a while put an enormous amount of pressure on him to deliver the goods every time, and that's got to have taken its toll. I don't know how anybody can keep up with that kind of demand. And and it means that if you are human and you screw up.

Speaker The criticism is that much worse, the it can be calamitous to your ego.

Speaker So, yeah, I think it was it was difficult for him. But alternatively, look at what fame did for him. It enabled him to do things like have a concert at the Berlin Wall when it came down, you know, be the kind of person who could say we are doing Mahler second for the memorial concert for our OK or was it JFK? I'm showing my he was RFQ and it's done, you know, and you're in a position of that kind of power and fame. You can have big ideas and have them executed. Wouldn't that be great?

Speaker But you have to earn it.

Speaker You know, you can't wake up one morning and be famous and powerful. You got to really earn it. And Menhir, that he earned it.

Speaker Well, throughout your life, you must have been approached by the help of people talking about the effect that you can't count with your perception of the impact of people's concerns, because I think it is one of the things perhaps that absolutely maybe the proudest achievement for him was the young people's concerts. I remember being backstage at concerts and people of roughly my age would come up to him and say, Mr. Bernstein, if it was not for you and the young people's concerts on television, I would never have picked up the fill in the blank clarinet, oboe, a violin, and I would never have discovered music or my children would never have picked up the cello. The bassoon people were genuinely changed by the young people's concerts. It made an enormous impression on this country's young young people, youth. And I certainly wish that the the same would happen for today's youth. I think they need it badly. And I have yet to see anything that approaches the sophistication of those programs or the accessibility of them. It just has yet to be made. It's a singular achievement. I agree.

Speaker No question about what do you think in this?

Speaker Not looking for simplistic soundbite, but yet to sum up what you what you think your father's legacy really is unique to that 100 years from the legacy?

Speaker Well, it may be that 100 years from now, Leonard Bernstein will be remembered for West Side Story alone. Even so, I mean, it would be tragic if that were so. But even so.

Speaker People will have understood something that is a basic truth about his legacy, and that is that he was able to combine high brow elements and low brow elements in a way that was accessible and sophisticated and immensely popular. Nobody had ever done what I guess essentially amounted to jazz fusion in a funny way before West Side Story. It's not just that it was jazzy. It's not just that it was sophisticated ballet music in a Broadway show. It was that it was both of those things and the Broadway standards, pop tunes all next to each other. And they worked. Nobody had ever done that before. And I don't know that anybody has done it since.

Speaker So I think he will be remembered. I don't think anybody will be able to look at the 20th century, certainly American musical figures, and he quite transcended that. And he will be three. I mean, I don't think there's any doubt he'll will be remembered as one of the greats.

Speaker Well, I hope you're right, 20th century, but I'm trying to get it because I think it does go beyond that story. Oh, sure. Composition. I think they've actually said that in terms of the impact of his teaching legacy.

Speaker What did you most admire?

Speaker His ability to talk to people, I think I said this last night that.

Speaker He if he felt he had a connection with someone, he would pursue that connection and get to know that person to the exclusion of everything else that was happening in what was usually very busy room. And he would give them his entire focus and he would draw them out using music games, whatever methods he employed. And he had several up his sleeve that he it's funny, you know, he had a method for meeting people.

Speaker This was it was like a one of his hobbies, collecting people. Maybe that's not very nice to say, but he did love people so much that when he met somebody that he felt a connection with.

Speaker I mean, who are you? What turns your mind on? I want to know what that is. And he would he would you would know it by the end of a half hour. You could be sure he'd know who that person was and a lifelong friendship would have been established.

Speaker No questions asked. Incredible. Truly incredible. I really admire that.

Speaker The ability to do that is quite extraordinary, given the demands on him. It's almost as if he feels he feels that he had to do that. He didn't take advantage of that moment and that and that at this moment.

Speaker Yeah.

Speaker Oh, I maybe what I admire most about him was his capacity for living and his his ability to not give in to fatigue, hunger.

Speaker You know, he couldn't he may not have eaten for ten hours, but if he was talking to you, he wasn't going to go to the buffet table that was right there. He would rather talk to you. And he would he may not have slept in two days, but if you hadn't heard the mazurkas you to sit down and play them for you, even if it was till five or six in the morning. Because that was more important, I really admire that sharing.

Speaker I read once you did that sharing was so important, you know, that I was scared and that really felt that came right down to it, that if you wrote a piece of music and you didn't think anything was ever here and it had no meaning, if you saw the sunset, you couldn't turn to somebody to share it with them.

Speaker That sunset didn't exist.

Speaker Yeah, that need to share was a real driving force in this life.

Speaker The need to share was the driving force in his life.

Speaker Call it, need to communicate, need to share whatever you're going to call it.

Speaker It was that basic need to connect with other people that drove him and it was a a motor and a half.

Speaker It just wouldn't quit this amazing thing that if you didn't.

Speaker Hmm, yeah, you know, it was a it was a double sided coin, this whole question of living beyond the rules of normal behavior, of accepted behavior, at times it meant he could transcend those rules and do something really spectacular and rebellious and take those risks and make something fresh and new and remarkable. The other side of the coin was it could be very hurtful to people. And if you're not living by the rules of accepted behavior, sometimes you can overstep.

Speaker You can you can step on people, and I didn't admire that about him, but you you can't have one without the other.

Speaker Unfortunately, he could be he could be cruel.

Speaker Sure, and he could certainly made me cry enough times people say that, and I still don't quite believe this, but people say that I'm the only person of whom he was truly afraid. I don't know what I don't know what this means. And when I when I ask about it, they say, well, because you would cry and run out of the room when he would do something mean, I said, well, who wouldn't? You know, what else are you supposed to do? Sit there and take it? Oh, I said, yeah, well, a lot of people did. And I think that's peculiar. Do you think that means he wasn't aware of the impact? Well, I once saw someone run out of the room crying and he was mean.

Speaker And he looked stricken.

Speaker Well, what I do. Oh, come on, you mean she thought, oh, for God's sake.

Speaker Well, no, really, you know, and then he would you would take it personally, would be offended that she thought that he was really being mean that way.

Speaker Why? He was only joking. No. OK, you take a joke too far, you're going to hurt somebody. You take responsibility. But he had to you know, he had to be told to take that responsibility. And when you think of how much he loved people and about making the connection, et cetera, et cetera, it's an interesting flaw that he could have been so insensitive about hurting people, too. So, you know, nothing is completely simple.

Speaker The last few years, what about.

Speaker He was not a happy man, but as you know.

Speaker What what was what was he unhappy?

Speaker I think he I think he missed my mom a lot. I think he wished that he could write another great piece, but the notes wouldn't come.

Speaker He was ever aware of his allotted three score years and ten being up.

Speaker Terrified and. I think that's enough to make a person happy, don't you? The sense that it was over and that he desperately not wanting it to be over.

Speaker I have dreams to that effect sometimes, and I know how.

Speaker Devastating, that sense of openness is and that's just a dream I can't imagine, actually. Living it. Do you think?

Speaker Come as a surprise to try to imagine that that really expected that that would happen. I think it did surprise him a lot. I think it took him by complete surprise. Suddenly the an old man, the 17th birthday party at Tanglewood was a it was a what would you call that?

Speaker It was it was a wallop for him. He took it hard and he wrote a poem that I don't like very much. It's very vulgar, but it's in the Bertan biography about the 17th birthday and the adulation and the summing up and the memorialising before he was dead and just how revolted he was by that whole scene as much as he appreciated, of course, how much love there was in it. But it creeped him out to.

Speaker What about. I'm sorry. I mean, I remember the poem. And I've actually been giving up trying to figure out how to use the first two lines without the rest of it. And they'll be with you the first time I reveal it.

Speaker Remind me what they were basically. You know, I'm I've had it with all this and I can't wonderful. I mean, it was just too much and that there was a sense of discomfort with the adulation. That's what it was. Yeah. Your sense of discomfort.

Speaker Right. How can all of this adulation really be sincere?

Speaker I'm not Gandhi. I'm not Jesus Christ. I'm not even John Lennon.

Speaker Yeah, well, you know, the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, let's face it.

Speaker But but you know that that was just too much for him, this sense of perspective.

Speaker I didn't feel a thing so terribly confusing because, you know, you're a man with problems and issues and frailties.

Speaker And here are thousands and thousands of people decorating you and celebrating you and writing things for you and giving you things. And it's got to be terribly confusing if you're if you don't feel like the second coming that day or week or year, what do you make of it all?

Speaker Very hard to just say thanks.

Speaker I think it's Alexander. So what did you do to your Alexander? I think you both made some reference to this at the dinner party that in a way, thank God that he did have that perspective about.

Speaker I would have been unbearable. Can you imagine? I mean, look, haven't you ever had a birthday party thrown for you when you just weren't in the mood? OK, and that can be a dinner party of eight people. And if you're not in the mood and you're not feeling 100 percent great about yourself. You feeling pretty wretched? Well, multiply that by a million on both counts, feeling rotten about yourself and the amount of fuss being made and you begin to get. Some measure of of what he was feeling. And it was a good thing, I guess, in the long run that he had any perspective at all about the adulation because he would have been unbearable to live with. This is a very hard question to ask and answer, but I'm curious perspective and I feel comfortable.

Speaker But do you think that by the time the end was there, he was ready for.

Speaker Obviously, because he let it win in the end, and I think by the end, he was he was asking for relief release, get me out of this. It was winning. He didn't have the strength to fight it. It was over all right already.

Speaker I think, though, that when he found out he had cancer, he was not ready, and I think it shocked him and he went into denial about it, you know, he had been told he had cancer a good two months before he finally admitted it to anybody. In fact, I remember him saying the doctor just told me I had cancer. And I said, Daddy, he told you that two months ago? No, he didn't. Yeah, he was very much in the selective hearing mode because he wasn't ready for it. He had too much music to write. He had too many people to love. It was unacceptable to him. He had so much he wanted to do. But then as that, as the disease progressed to then.

Speaker He gave in to it when it when it became obvious that he was that his health was deteriorating quickly and that his physical state of being was never going to regain its former vigor. It was suggested to him that perhaps.

Speaker Perhaps he had a great many months to live this way and that sure, there was lots he could do, why he could go to the museum, they could open the mat for him, especially at night, and he would go in in his wheelchair connected to tubes and things and.

Speaker It's just so preposterous an idea, can you imagine he would never have allowed it.

Speaker Now, there are people out there who may say that's better than nothing, but Leonard Bernstein was, if anything. A robust physical person, there was no way that he was going to go through life as an invalid. Attached to tubes and things, is that out of the question? I remember being quite angry when this was told to me. What are you nuts? You don't know this man. The idea really was an affront, almost. When he was first told when he was first told that he had cancer, he was shocked, although, of course, for many years he had been almost expecting it.

Speaker Still, it shocked him and it shocked and to the extent that he went into a good deal of denial about it and he insisted that he had not been told two months previously that he had cancer, although we knew very well that he had been told and he would say, no, I wasn't. And oh, jeez, you know what? We're going to have to argue about this. That's tedious. But it was obvious that he was darn upset about it.

Speaker I don't think I think we ever ready ready in reality, a reality of the business and never mind the media. Just a little comment sort of comparison with Sam.

Speaker Sam, of course, had tremendous business acumen. There's a there's a line in the whole section in trouble in Tahiti with the chorus sings about Sam's genius in matters financial daddy.

Speaker And it should have been obvious to Sam early. This is interesting because Sam was after him to join in the family business.

Speaker But it should have been obvious to Sam from the get go that Daddy inherited none of this, that he couldn't have been less interested in matters financial and business, and that he really just was a dreamer and a romantic and lived in his heart and in his brain and and the part of his brain that he used was not the part that counted dollars and cents. So when it came time for Amazon to be established, it it did not go unnoticed that Leonard Bernstein never attended one board meeting.

Speaker Of Anderson, I've read and I truly can't remember what, but you tell kids chose certain items very carefully placed in my coffin. Mm hmm.

Speaker Could you tell us what those were? Well, it was Alexander. Who?

Speaker I don't know if he dressed him along with Craig or Kaat or if he simply chose and then told Craig or how it was some combination of the two, I was not involved, actually, but.

Speaker Alice in Wonderland, uh.

Speaker He was buried in one of his summer conducting jackets, the white silk legendry, No. It's his signature things, maybe his Torah, I'm not sure that's a great question and an Alexander question.

Speaker Describe the funeral procession of your your your memory of that procession out of body experience.

Speaker I felt like I was in somebody's movie where I was like, Yeah. This could not really be happening. Of course, the construction worker episode that's now so described, we went by a construction site, we were on the must have been the BQE.

Speaker And we were in a motorcade, so we were quite obvious they had stopped traffic. Imagine that they had stopped traffic on a Thursday. Tuesday, Tuesday, late morning in New York City and. Traffic had been stopped so that this funeral procession could make its way on the BQE and we passed a construction site and.

Speaker One or two construction workers, hardhats saw that cars go by and they.

Speaker They dumped their caps and they said, we love you.

Speaker He was amazing, there was amazing.

Speaker And you talk about a legacy. Really, Sultan? Said, no, I'm sorry, I mean to lose it.

Speaker Anything you want to ask you? Well, I was going to. I was going to talk about Leonard Bernstein, personal tempo, which I do talk about on the oral history tape, and I think it should not go unnoticed because people think of Leonard Bernstein's tempo, personal tempo as being pretty vigorous, at least when you see him on camera.

Speaker He's he's got quite a motor than he did for the most part. But later in life and I don't know if this was only late in life, but this might also have been true earlier if you would go through an airport with Leonard Bernstein.

Speaker It took forever to get from one place to another, or if you had to walk from one room of a house to another room in the house, he would walk.

Speaker At this rate, you wanted to hit him.

Speaker And it was because he couldn't. It was much like Jerry Ford. He couldn't walk and talk at the same time and he would be in the middle of something terribly important that he was telling you and he would have to stop turn to talk to you.

Speaker And you would try to get him to move along? No, he would stand there and he would talk to you and then he would and walk, walk, walk. And it was really excruciating. His he took forever to leave the green room of whatever after any concert that he did. He had his ritual, he had his coat of many colors, as we used to call it, is. Silk bathrobe.

Speaker He's got a cigarette, he would greet his well-wishers, sign the autographs, take Roman and he would have those conversations with everybody. And what do you do?

Speaker And the line was down the hall and he would really be talking to this one person and you to stop it, move along, get on with it.

Speaker We got to go somewhere. And it was many years before I figured out that, oh, you mean I can go to the party now and he can meet us there? Oh, it's clever that, you know, I actually don't have to wait for a while waiting for Maestro everyone.

Speaker Oh, yes. Mummy used to say that when she wrote her autobiography, it would be called Waiting for Lenny. And she why would she put up with. She was very patient, I was not as patient. I couldn't do it. So I would go and wait for him wherever the party was endless. And of course, yes, after all the people had left and he would take the shower and he would dress and he would talk to Greg or whoever was lingering in the green room about great matters.

Speaker Insufferable got to be the last to leave.

Speaker Oh, yeah, sure, it's funny, that story about about his you know, it's it's not what I would have imagined. I would have imagined.

Speaker I mean, you would you would think.

Speaker You'd think. And it wasn't that he was slowed by age. I don't want to get that impression across. I don't want people to imagine the little old man shuffling down a long airport walkway. No, it was different.

Speaker It was big, robust steps, but slow, slow as molasses.

Speaker In talking, he was talking as he was. The other thing I wanted to talk about, and we should have done this last night when the three of us were, but.

Speaker Daddy at the theater or daddy at movies, and Daddy had concerts, any public performance venue. There came there came a time after which I wouldn't go with him anymore because it was, again, excruciating.

Speaker Why didn't he say?

Speaker I didn't get the joke and you never learn to whisper in his life, so he would say he would try. This was his whisper, but I thought he was the bad guy.

Speaker Oh, I get it. They all killed him. Whatever. Great plot revelation. And you just terrible that way.

Speaker And people would turn around and shoot him and he'd go. Well, I do again. You know, it was that not living by the rules that everybody else had to live by.

Speaker It was, you know, after a while and concerts, forget it or Templestowe or go that French horn Muftah.

Speaker Bad, bad behavior. Nobody wanted to hit him and and you couldn't really so your choice was just, you know, go and shut up or.

Speaker No, thank you and thank you for your most embarrassing moments with him.

Speaker Among those who were among my most embarrassing moments here in the White House.

Speaker Oh, yeah.

Speaker Oh, tell one story I forgot to ask you about being in the White House, sneaking everybody into the room to lie to me.

Speaker Oh, yeah.

Speaker We were there for the Kennedy Center Honors at which Daddy received a medal in 1980, the. Yes, December of 1980. It was Carter's last stand.

Speaker Reagan had been elected and we were bidding our farewell to a Democratic administration. It happened to coincide with Hanukkah and we had brought a menorah and candles. And we were being shown around.

Speaker And somehow found ourselves in the Lincoln Bedroom of recent oh, well, Lincoln Bedroom, where we proceeded to light the Hanukkah candles, say our prayers.

Speaker It's very moving.

Speaker And we left them there burning.

Speaker Talk about acts of rebellion. Alexander apparently had the good sense to move them into a bathroom and let them burn down in a sink or something, but daddy was perfectly content to leave them burning right there. I'm sure I'm sure somebody would have come along afterwards and extinguished them.

Speaker But, well, I've forgotten the details here that he was it when Carter left the White House, he said, I mean, you know, I mean, there was something about his refusal to go to the White House. You wouldn't step foot in it until you know this again.

Speaker Until, oh, he made he made a pronouncement about not setting foot in the White House until another Democratic president became elected.

Speaker And unfortunately. That in his lifetime, right?

Speaker He missed that. I bet he and Clinton would have been great pals, by the way.

Speaker I bet they would have.

Speaker I think so you would be in the White House all the time and I think he would have loved Hillary. Don't you think? I did the.

Nina Bernstein Simmons
Interview Date:
1997-10-11
Runtime:
1:49:35
Keywords:
None
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-wd3pv6c06v, cpb-aacip-504-9k45q4s70h, cpb-aacip-504-930ns0mf76, cpb-aacip-504-gx44q7rd3x
MLA CITATIONS:
"Nina Bernstein Simmons, Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 11 Oct. 1997, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1069
APA CITATIONS:
(1997, October 11). Nina Bernstein Simmons, Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1069
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Nina Bernstein Simmons, Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). October 11, 1997. Accessed June 28, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1069

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