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Leonard Bernstein Biography
Leonard Bernstein (August 25, 1918 - October 14, 1990) was an Jewish-American composer and orchestra conductor.

Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts and studied at Harvard. He was highly regarded as a conductor, composer, pianist, and educator. He is probably best known to the public as long time music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra; for conducting concerts by many of the world's leading orchestras; and for writing the music for the musical West Side Story. All told, he wrote three symphonies, two operas, five musicals, and numerous other pieces. Bernstein's politics were decidedly left wing, but unlike some of his contemporaries, he was not blacklisted in the 1950s.

During the 1960s, he became a well-known figure in the US through his series of "Young People's Concerts" for US public television.

On Christmas Day, December 25, 1989 Bernstein conducted Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 as part of a celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The concert was broadcast live in more than twenty countries to an estimated audience of 100 million people. For the occasion, Bernstein reworded Friedrich Schiller's text of Ode to Joy, substituting the word "freedom" (Freiheit) for "joy" (Freude). "I'm sure that Beethoven would have given us his blessing", said Bernstein.

Bernstein was a highly-regarded conductor among many musicians, in particular the members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he was a regular guest conductor. However, some people found his histrionic conducting style irritating and distracting; he danced and went into fits of exultation as he conducted. Bernstein's personal life was marked by anguish over the tradeoff between a conductor's glory and a composer's productivity, the criticism invited by his impassioned political activism, the conflict between his devotion to his family and his bisexuality, and bouts of depression suffered in his later years.

Principal Works with First Performance Dates

1. Works for the Theater
Fancy Free (ballet), 1944
On the Town (Musical), 1944
Facsimile (ballet), 1946
Peter Pan (songs, incidental music), 1950
Trouble in Tahiti (opera in one act), 1952
Wonderful Town (musical), 1953
On the Waterfront (film score), 1954
Candide(operetta), 1956
West Side Story (musical), 1957
Mass (theatre piece for singers, players and dancers), 1971
Dybbuk (ballet), 1974
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (musical), 1976
A Quiet Place (opera in two acts), 1983
The Race to Urga (musical), 1987

2. Orchestral Works for the Concert Hall
Jeremiah, Symphony No. 1, 1944
Fancy Free and Three Dance Variations from "Fancy Free,", concert premeire 1946
Three Dance Episodes from "On the Town," concert premiere 1947
The Age of Anxiety,Symphony No. 2 (after W. H. Auden) for Piano and Orchestra, 1949
Serenade (after Plato's "Symposium") for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion, 1954
Prelude, Fugue and Riffs for Solo Clarinet and Jazz Ensemble, 1955
Symphonic Suite from "On the Waterfront," 1955
Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story," 1961
Kaddish, Symphony No. 3 for Orchestra, Mixed Chorus, Boys' Choir, Speaker and Soprano Solo, 1963
Chichester Psalms for Mixed Choir, Boy Soloist and Orchestra, 1965
Dybbuk, Suites No. 1 and 2 for Orchestra, concert premieres 1975
Songfest: A Cycle of American Poems for Six Singers and Orchestra, 1977
Three Meditations from "Mass" for Violoncello and Orchestra, 1977
Divertimento fro Orchestra, 1980
Halil, nocturne for Solo Flute, Piccolo, Alto Flute, Percussion, Harp and Strings, 1981
Concerto for Orchestra, 1989

3. Choral Music for Church or Synagogue
Hashkiveinu for Solo Tenor, Mixed Chorus and Organ, 1945
Missa Brevis for Mixed Chorus and Countertenor Solo, with Percussion, 1988

4. Chamber Music
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, 1942
Brass Music, 1959

5. Vocal Music
I Hate Music: A cycle of Five Kids Songs for Soprano and Piano, 1943
La Bonne Cuisine: Four Recipes for Voice and Piano, 1948
Arias and Barcarolles for Mezzo-Soprano, Baritone and Piano four-hands, 1988
A Song Album, 1988

6. Other Music
Various Piano pieces
Other occasional works, written as gifts and other forms of memorial and tribute

7. Books
The Joy of Music, 1959; in print from Anchor Books, 1994
Leonard Bernstein's Yound People's COncerts, 1962; in print from Anchor Books, 1992
The Infinite Variety of Music, 1966, in print from Anchor books, 1993
The Unanswered Question, 1976; Harvard University Press
Findings, 1982; in print from Anchor Books, 1993
Leonard Bernstein Resources
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Leonard Bernstein.