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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

In Memoriam - Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

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November is a month I usually reserve on this and my other platforms for remembering those we have lost. This is the first of two posts on the Tuesday Blog underscoring the passing of great musicians.


On October 14 1990 - a little more than 25 years ago - and a mere five days after announcing his retirement from conducting, Bernstein died at home, in the Dakota, reportedly while trying to frolic with his grandchildren. Few of us would mind going that way...

Bernstein's decision to retire is easily explained by reviewing the accounts of his last concert - held at Tanglewood a few weeks earlier. He was sucking on oxygen off stage and was hardly able to complete a program that included Beethoven's Seventh Symphony and the Four Sea Interludes from Britten's Peter Grimes, which he had introduced from that very stage in the Berkshires in 1945. Carl St. Clair, then a conducting assistant, was called upon for the premiere of an "orchstrated" version of Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles.

Bernstein's physical deterioration had been evident for a few years. The bloated belly, the shortness of breath, his awesome vitality now having to be summoned by sheer will power. Years of heavy smoking, the scotch and the rough lifestyle had caught up with him.

What of the concert, then? Well, this farewell performance is recreated in our montage from the Podcast Vault, which features the Deutsche Grammophon recording of the event, completed with a recording of selections from Arias taken from my personal collection. In spite of Bernstein's physical challenges, the two works he conducted are still full of charm and insight..

Happy Listening!

ITYWLTMT Montage #18 - This Day in Music History – August 19, 1990
(Originally published on Friday, 19 August 2011)

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, op. 33a Boston Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Bernstein, conducting

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
Arias and Barcarolles for mezzo-soprano, baritone and piano four hands (1988) - Selections
Judy Kaye, Soprano
William Sharp. Baritone
Michael Barrett & Steven Blier, Piano

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony no. 7 in A major, op. 92
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Bernstein, conducting



To read and listen to my musical selections this month, please visit my programming pages on both my English and French Blogs. Past music montages can also be heard on our Pod-O-Matic podcast channel.
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Updated Nov-03-2015 at 12:24 by itywltmt

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Classical Music , Recorded Music

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