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Thread: Leonard Bernstein

  1. #1
    Senior Member oogabooha's Avatar
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    Default Leonard Bernstein

    I'm very surprised that there still isn't a guestbook thread for Lenny (although [obviously] there have been mentions of him on the board), so I've decided to create one myself.

    What is there to be said about Leonard Bernstein? He's definitely one of my favorite composers, and was a fantastic conductor, intellectual, and composer. I've thoroughly gone through all of his books, Omnibus specials, Young People's concerts, lectures, and music/recordings. What a great person.

    Are there any other Bernstein fans on here?

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    Senior Member samurai's Avatar
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    I am, especially for his Mahler and Tchaikovsky readings.
    Last edited by samurai; Jan-02-2013 at 05:40.
    Whatever floats your boat

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    Senior Member Crudblud's Avatar
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    A fantastic composer I would say, based at least on his musical scores and his Mass, though I am yet to hear the symphonies. As an educator he is also an engaging figure, both his Young People's Concerts and Unanswered Question lectures at Harvard are series I would recommend to one and all, truly fascinating and engrossing, and even entertaining without falling in to the dreaded genre of "edutainment" that did plague my years at school.

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    I love Bernstein! When I was in high school, I got to play some of his works (Profanation, Candide, and so forth). I absolutely love how he conducts and his Operetta Candide has impacted me in so many ways. How I wish he was still around.
    Last edited by TheVioletKing; Jan-09-2013 at 06:49.

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    As a wee boy I grew up watching Lenny host "The Young People's Concerts" during the 1960s. He also hosted other shows on CBS-TV. In H.S. orchestra we played many Lenny pieces including "West Side Story" and some Gershwin whom Lenny adored. Obviously, our music director was a Lenny fan especially since this was in New York.
    I love his Mahler most of all and I respect that he wanted to present music to the masses.
    And yes, I agree his Tchaikovsky was excellent, and his Schumann.
    Last edited by davinci; Jan-09-2013 at 07:59.

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    Senior Member oogabooha's Avatar
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    I think the best thing about Lenny was that not only did he want to study and discuss and work on music at a scholarly, historical level, but he also realized that many aspects of music (like creativity, overall expression) simply can't be defined in words.

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Cool Best Mahler Conductor

    I have made friends with a retired doublebass player from the National Symphony. He plays with me in one of the groups I am a member. I asked him who was the best Mahler conductors he ever played for. His response was Bruno Walter and Lenny.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    Senior Member Wandering's Avatar
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    I'm a big fan of Westside Story, not opera or musicals of themselves, but the music within them. Westside story has instant melodic or tune appeal. The story itself I can do without. Have yet to listened to Candide. Many American composer from his time aren't either listened and referred to much anymore. William Schuman and Walter Piston, to name a couple. I've loved many of his recordings as a conductor, I'm sad to say I've neglected his music.

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    Toscanini and Bernstein, probably the two most charismatic conductors in modern times. I know I'm stretching "modern" a little bit with Arturo.

    I can't imagine an individual packing more into his life than Lenny. It seemed he was up for everything 26 hours a day, 8 days a week. He was not only a respected musical figure, but also a respected politico...of Leftist leaning of course.

    He would sometimes put himself in slightly embarrassing situations, but that was Lenny, wearing his feelings, his ambitions in full view. If he wasn't so talented, confident, and charismatic, a number of these choices would have shrunk his avenues for success.

    Except for Candide Overture, I'm not a huge fan of his compositions. His conducting is quite another matter. There is none greater, when you consider how much he gave beyond the podium.

    My LB record collection is modest, considering my high praise. That's mostly due to my sparse physical count collecting philosophy. No slighting intended.

    Schumann Symphonies 1 - 4 (DG)
    Dvorak Symphony 7, etc. (Sony)
    Mahler Symphony 3 (Sony)
    Mahler Symphony 5 (DG)
    Mahler Symphony 8 (Sony, w. LSO)
    Mahler Symphony 9 (Sony)
    Mahler Lieder (DG, w. Hampson)
    Mahler Lieder (Sony, w. Tourel)
    Mahler Lieder (Sony, w. Baker)
    Bernstein Candide, Symphonic Dances (Sony)
    Gershin Rhapsody in Blue, etc. (Sony)
    Honegger Pacific 231, Rugby (Sony)
    Milhaud Choephores (Sony)
    Roussel Symphony 3 (Sony)
    Shostakovich Symphonies 1 & 7 (DG)
    Sibelius Pohjola's Daughter (Sony)
    Stravinsky Rite of Spring (Sony, 1958)

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    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    I can't think of a greater all-rounder if we consider his contributions not just to conducting and composing but also his own playing, teaching, lecturing and an eagerness in general to reach out and communicate with people whether they be illustrious contemporaries and colleagues or the average man in the street whose knowledge of CM may be non-existent.

    There's a story (possibly apocryphal plus my wording is approximate rather than transcribed) about a youth who excitedly told his father that he was going to study with Bernstein. The father said: 'Watch out for Bernstein, I've heard he's bisexual', to which his son replied: 'Heck, is there NOTHING that man can't do?!'

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    Senior Member Olias's Avatar
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    Huge LB fan! If you haven't seen him rehearse young adults, then you are missing out on some of his greatest magic. I highly recommend this DVD which shows Lenny working with young musicians in the rehearsal and performance of Shostakovich's 1st Symphony. Marvelous.

    LBDVD.jpg

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  22. #12
    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Cool Bernstein Joke

    Quote Originally Posted by elgars ghost View Post
    I can't think of a greater all-rounder if we consider his contributions not just to conducting and composing but also his own playing, teaching, lecturing and an eagerness in general to reach out and communicate with people whether they be illustrious contemporaries and colleagues or the average man in the street whose knowledge of CM may be non-existent.

    There's a story (possibly apocryphal plus my wording is approximate rather than transcribed) about a youth who excitedly told his father that he was going to study with Bernstein. The father said: 'Watch out for Bernstein, I've heard he's bisexual', to which his son replied: 'Heck, is there NOTHING that man can't do?!'
    I told your joke at band rehersal tonight to my friend and the bassoon section. THEY LOVE IT!
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Whatever he was or was not, it is many times over reported fact from those who knew and worked with the maestro that his zeal, passion, sentimentality, even to 'gushing' were all absolutely genuine. He would become agonized over how much there was in the least of the repertoire to know, bring out 'right' in a performance that it would keep him up nights and make him anxious, while continuing to plummet those works in great depth.

    To me, his Candide (first version) is his masterpiece, and the closest to 'what I think he was.' Second, though I care for it not one jot, would be 'West Side Story.' (whomever does not like 'the story' there does not care, it seems, for Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' :-) The bulk of his compositions leave me cold, symphonies, Chichester Psalms, Serenade for Violin and orchestra or all the rest... [just not my cuppa.]

    That intense, unstoppable and genuine passion had him educating an entire generation about 'no fear, no class elitism' classical music and its 'accessibility' to all.

    That same genuine passion and demonstrable emotionality made his conducting, for me, more than listenable but unwatchable.
    Last edited by PetrB; Jan-10-2013 at 05:43.

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  26. #14
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetrB View Post
    That intense, unstoppable and genuine passion had him educating an entire generation about 'no fear, no class elitism' classical music and its 'accessibility' to all.
    Agree 100%. Is there a parallel in history to this conductor who wanted to be a "serious" composer but succeeded instead in writing enormously popular works for a much broader audience?


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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Cool Verdi

    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Agree 100%. Is there a parallel in history to this conductor who wanted to be a "serious" composer but succeeded instead in writing enormously popular works for a much broader audience?
    Verdi. He wrote what many would consider "serious" music and many of the arias from his operas were enormously popular with the general public. Wagner and he were probably the greatest opera composers of the 19th century.

    (Note: It is ironic that with the exceptions of a few works, I can not stand either of these composers. When their trains left the station I was not on them. I have always thought that one of the benefits of my music education is that it had taught me to acknowledge great music even when I hated it.)

    I am surprised you asked the question. With your knowledge you can probably come up with a bigger list that I can.
    Last edited by arpeggio; Jan-10-2013 at 06:11. Reason: spelling
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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