by Marika Somogyi (1993), Leonard Bernstein, Conductor &
Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts on August 25, 1918.
When his aunt sent her upright piano to the Bernstein home, 10
year old Lenny looked at it, hit the key, cried "Ma, I want lessons,"
... and the rest is history.
Bernstein was appointed assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic
Orchestra. A few months later - at the age of 25 - Lenny burst
on the national music scene when he substituted at the last minute
for an ailing conductor. His brilliant performance earned a tremendous
ovation from the audience, and an enthusiastic review on the front
page of The New York Times.
was named music director of the New York Philharmonic in 1958,
becoming the first American born person to head a top symphony
orchestra. In his 11 years in this position, the New York Philharmonic
enjoyed unparalleled success and prestige ... and the orchestra's
recordings became best sellers. His association with the Israel
Philharmonic began shortly after the establishment of the Jewish
State, when Bernstein conducted seven official concerts in Jerusalem,
Tel Aviv and Haifa.
classical works include ballets (Fancy Free, Dybbuk), operas (Trouble
in Tahiti, A Quite Place), and symphonies (Jeremiah, The Age of
Anxiety, Kaddish). Many regarded him as the potential savior of
the American musical, because of shows like Wonderful Town, Candide
and West Side Story. Bernstein also wrote the score of the motion
picture On the Waterfront.
One of Leonard
Berstein's greatest achievements was bringing music to the masses
via television, beginning in 1957 on the "Omnibus" program, and
then as host of the New York Philharmonic's Emmy Award-winning
"Young People's Concerts." One critic wrote: "Bernstein lured
us onto the stage with him, holding us with his every word until,
miraculously, we actually began to understand how music worked
and what made it beautiful." Leonard Bernstein was widely regarded
as the most gifted and versatile American musician of the 20th