Leonard Bernstein

The conductor-composer-pianist was born in Lawrence, MA in 1918 and died in New York City in 1990. Educated at Boston Latin School, he became an early student at the newly formed Tanglewood in 1940, a year after graduating Harvard, where he studied under Walter Piston. It was at Tanglewood, initially as assistant to musical director Serge Koussevitsky, that Bernstein earned his conducting chops, and where he ended up both teaching and conducting for 50 years. A fast-rising classical star, Bernstein became assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, then music director of the New York City Symphony. By the early 1950s, he was running Tanglewood’s orchestral and conducting departments, he began a long-standing teaching relationship with Brandeis, and he was the first American to conduct opera at La Scala in Milan. As an international conductor, Bernstein knew how to put on a show with his baton, exciting audiences while leading Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, and especially Mahler (whose music he championed). His own works include three symphonies, two operas, and the Broadway productions Candide, On the Town, Wonderful Town, and West Side Story. His score for the 1954 film On the Waterfront was Oscar-nominated, and in 1985 the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences gave him a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award.
(by Ed Symkus)

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