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Leonard Bernstein's centenary is coming up in August, so here is a new topic devoted to The Saga of Lenny. Article by Graham Watts here.

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Robbins described his working relationship with Bernstein in another interview, in 1986: “We both liked each other’s ideas and that was it.  We were off and running…[Lenny] was writing the music while I was touring…and he would send me records…and then I’d either write or call him and say, “Variation 3 is much too long,” or “this is too fast”, or “this is wonderful”.”  

Related.

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On the evidence of those scores and Bernstein’s notations on them, it is clear that he was almost never without a score at hand.

“He almost always had to have one with him, you’d think,” the historian said. “He would write down dreams he had had, poems, to-do lists. There’s one where he’s trying to figure out what stove to buy for his kitchen. He would note what he’s impressed with about the music, his own personal joy and reaction to the page he’s looking at. It’s always so thoughtful.”

A look at the backstory of West Side Story by Laura Jacobs in Vanity Fair.

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They met in October of 1943, the beginning of what Bernstein would call “the year of miracles.” Bernstein was living in New York City, marking time as the assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and Robbins was in the classical company Ballet Theatre. Both were hungry for the Big Break, but it was hard to see anything on the horizon. Bernstein’s would come a month later, when on November 14 he took the podium at Carnegie Hall—without rehearsal!—and conducted for the ailing Bruno Walter. This kiss of fate allowed him, in one afternoon, to loosen forever Europe’s grip on the conductor’s baton. His debut made the front page of The New York Times, and the skinny kid, soon dubbed the Sinatra of the concert hall, soared to stardom. Two months later his Symphony No. 1, Jeremiah, was premiered.

Thoughts, comments, memories welcome!

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I loved that Vanity Fair piece, that magazine is my guilty pleasure.  Best $24 I spend on media every year.  

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It does seem like most major and regional symphonies in the U.S. are joining in the celebration with Bernstein programs at some point of the year. It shouldn't be difficult to find something of interest near you.

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Alexander Bernstein is interviewed about his father.

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Does that explain why, although he kept on composing all his life, he never fully recaptured the glorious free-flowing lyricism of his 1950s and 60s heyday? “As his conducting schedule got more and more crowded he did try to block out three months or so each year for composing,” Alexander Bernstein says, “but of course that put a tremendous pressure on him. He was in effect saying to himself, ‘Right, sit down now and write something magnificent and important.’ Having been surrounded by people and adulation during his conducting months, he was now alone with this mountain of self-expectation and that was very difficult for him.”

 

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The NYT observes Bernstein's centenary.

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Well, it’s finally upon us: Leonard Bernstein would have turned 100 on Saturday, Aug. 25.

A quiz.

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The famed conductor / composer left an indelible mark on the history of music. Today, we commemorate his 100 years with this little quiz that tests your knowledge of his extraordinary career.

Bernstein's former assistant gets spliced.

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Mr. Urquhart (left), 65, is a composer and pianist in Berlin, who has performed in the United States, Japan and Europe. He began his career as Leonard Bernstein’s personal assistant in the mid-1980s, and now works as a senior consultant for press and promotion for the Leonard Bernstein Office, which promotes the legacy of Mr. Bernstein. 

 

 

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