Leonard Bernstein

American conductor, composer and pianist Leonard Bernstein was a giant of the world's concert halls achieving massive success on television, film and on the Broadway stage. Over a long career, he made landmark recordings of works by the classic composers, scored movies such as 'On the Waterfront' and created lasting popular shows such as 'On the Town' and 'West Side Story'. Born in New England, he learned to play the piano as a child and studied music at Harvard University and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Further study at Tanglewood, the institute of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, led to a position there as conducting assistant to Serge Koussevitzky. He joined the New York Philharmonic as assistant conductor in 1943 and after he stepped in for the unwell Bruno Walter for a radio broadcast of a Carnegie Hall concert, critical acclaim drew invitations for him to conduct other orchestras. He became music director of the New York City Symphony Orchestra in 1945 and taught at Tanglewood. After the end of World War II, he conducted in London, Prague, Tel Aviv and at the Teatro alla Scala opera house in Milan. During the early 1950s he was head of the Creative Arts Festivals at Brandeis University. Named music director of the New York Philharmonic in 1958, he went on world tours and subsequently recorded more than half of his 400-plus recordings with the orchestra. His first ambitious work was 'Symphony No. 1: Jeremiah' which he conducted with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1944 and won the New York Music Critics' Award. He wrote many other symphonies and shorter pieces, fugues, operas and ballets. He also wrote musicals and pieces of jazz, boogie-woogie and pop. He was an active teacher and campaigner for human rights and charitable organisations. His score for the Marlon Brando movie 'On the Waterfront' was nominated for an Academy Award in 1955 and he won seven Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Classical Music Programmes. His first Grammy Awards came in 1961 for Best Recording for Children for 'Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf' and Best Documentary Or Spoken Word Recording for 'Humor in Music'. He won many more Grammy Awards including Best Orchestral Performance for 'Mahler: Symphony No. 3 in D Minor' (1989), 'Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 7' (1990) and 'Mahler: Symphony No. 9' (1992). A vast number of Bernstein's recordings remain available with box sets including the 60-disc CD and DVD release 'The Leonard Bernstein Collection - Volume One' (2014), the 80-disc CD set 'Leonard Bernstein: Album Collection' (2014) and the 64-disc CD release 'The Leonard Bernstein Collection Volume 2' (2916). His final appearance took place at Tanglewood on 19th August 1990 where he conducted Britten's 'Four Sea Interludes' and Beethoven's 'Seventh Symphony' with the Boston Symphony. He died just two months later in New York following a heart attack aged 72.

Related Artists

Stations Featuring Leonard Bernstein

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.