Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was an American composer and conductor, one of the giants of 20th century music. He was a classical artist, but in true New York style, mixed classical music with jazz and Broadway.
Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts on August 25, 1918. Incidentally, that was during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1920.
He was one of the artists who seem to have two brains. He could play the piano and conduct at the same time.
The former music director of the New York Philharmonic (1958-1969) is best remembered for composing the score for “West Side Story.” But he also scored “On the Waterfront,” “On the Town,” and other Broadway shows.
He was good at connecting with large audiences through television. Bernstein conducted the New York Philharmonic’s “Young People’s Concerts” for over a decade. It made him a household name.
Bernstein is one of those artists who won Emmy, Tony and Grammy Awards, but not just one of each. There were 11 Emmys, 1 Tony and 17 Grammys. Oh, and a Kennedy Center Honor too.
He died in Manhattan on October 14, 1990. Leonard Bernstein is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
“I Want to Live in America…”
Bernstein wrote the music to “West Side Story,” not the words, but the tune sticks in your head.
It always seemed incredible how well a Jewish creative team could understand New York City’s Puerto Rican community, and tell a story that rings true half a century later.
The Jewish community made key contributions to the culture of Spain and European culture. There are many Jewish communities in Latin America, but none of this is the reason for that common understanding.
It turns out that the original “West Side Story” was set in New York’s Jewish community. The community was changed, but because it’s a human story, it works for everyone.
People do the same things everywhere and across time because we are human.
How did one person accomplish so much in one lifetime?