Leonard Bernstein (i/ˈbɜrnstaɪn/ US dict: bûrn′·stīn; August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim. According to The New York Times, he was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history." He is quite possibly the conductor whose name is best known to the public in general, especially the American public.
His fame derived from his long tenure as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, from his conducting of concerts with most of the world's leading orchestras, and from his music for West Side Story, as well as Candide, Wonderful Town, On the Town and his own Mass.
Bernstein was also the first conductor to give numerous television lectures on classical music, starting in 1954 and continuing until his death. In addition, he was a skilled pianist, often conducting piano concertos from the keyboard.
As a composer he wrote in many styles encompassing symphonic and orchestral music, ballet, film and theatre music, choral works, opera, chamber music and pieces for the piano. Many of his works are regularly performed around the world, although none has matched the tremendous popular and commercial success of West Side Story.
About the Work:
Ranked No. 8 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 best American movies of all time, On the Waterfront also has a spot on the AFI's list of the top film scores in American cinema (No. 22). Yet the music that Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) wrote during a three-month sojourn in Hollywood in 1954 represents his sole effort as a film composer. (Other film scores featuring his music are adapted from preexisting compositions.) It may seem curious that despite his grasp of the mass media as a platform to reach new audiences, Bernstein kept his distance from this genre. The problem in general, he wrote, is that "it is a musically unsatisfactory for a composer to write a score whose chief merit ought to be its unobtrusiveness." Ruing the experience of the cutting room in "Upper Dubbing" (Columbia Pictures' sound-editing studio), he described how the film composer "sits by, protesting as he can, but ultimately accepting, be it with heavy heart, the inevitable loss of a good part of his score. Everyone tries to comfort him. 'You can always use it in a suite.'"
Which is exactly what Bernstein did the following summer, crafting an independent concert work that develops the principal ideas from his film score into a nearly integrated musical experience.
zentake: Lenny's music will last until the last cultural sunset of humanity.
From the album "New York! New York! Symphonic Dances and Overtures from Musicals". Performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conducted by Carl Davis.
(c) Royal Philharmonic Masterworks