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Bernstein, Leonard(bûrn`stīn, –stēn), 1918–90, American composer, conductor, and pianist, b. Lawrence, Mass., grad. Harvard, 1939, and Curtis Institute of Music, 1941. A highly versatile musician, he was the composer of symphonic works (the Jeremiah Symphony, 1944; Age of Anxiety, 1949; Kaddish Symphony, 1963), song cycles, chamber music, ballets (Fancy Free, 1944), musicals (On the Town, 1944; Wonderful Town, 1953; Candide, 1956; West Side Story, 1957), opera (Trouble in Tahiti, 1952), and choral music (Chichester Psalms, 1965). His Mass (1971), a "theater piece for dancers, singers, and players," was performed at the opening of the John F. Kennedy Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. From 1951 to 1956 he taught at Brandeis Univ. He was a soloist and conductor with many orchestras in the United States and abroad. He first conducted the New York Philharmonic in 1943, and from 1958 to 1970 was its musical director. Upon his retirement he was named laureate conductor and frequently appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic.
See his The Joy of Music (1959) and The Infinite Variety of Music (1966); J. Cott, Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein (2013); N. Simeone, ed., The Leonard Bernstein Letters (2013); biographies by J. Briggs (1961), J. Gruen (1968), H. Burton (1994), and M. Secrest (1994); B. Bernstein (his brother) and B. Haws, Leonard Bernstein: American Original (2008); B. Seldes, Leonard Bernstein: The Political Life of an American Musician (2009).
Born Aug. 25,1918, in Lawrence, Mass. American conductor, pianist, and composer. Studied at Harvard University (1939) and at the Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia); pursued advanced training as a conductor under the tutelage of S. A. Koussevitsky. From 1943 to 1944 he was assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, and from 1945 to 1948, conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra.
Bernstein has conducted all the leading orchestras of the world. He participated as a conductor in festivals of contemporary music (Prague and Amsterdam) and performed the works of American composers. From 1958 to 1969 he was the conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He toured the USSR in 1959.
Bernstein presents his own compositions both as a pianist and as a conductor. He has written ballets, symphonies (Jeremiah, 1942; and The Age of Anxiety, 1949), musicals for the Broadway theater (including West Side Story, 1957), song cycles, church music, instrumental pieces, songs, and music for motion pictures.
REFERENCESEwen, D. Leonard Bernstein, A Biography For Young People, 2nd edition. New York, 1967.
Briggs, J. Leonard Bernstein, the Man, His Work and His World. Cleveland-New York, 1961.