Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein

Composer


Biography


Leonard Bernstein is a composer and musician, and the first American conductor to receive international acclaim. His classical musical theatre and other various symphonic and orchestral compositions make him one of the most celebrated musicians today.

Bernstein was born in Massachusetts in 1918. He attended Harvard University, where he earned his degree in music. He then attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and studied conducting. After finishing his studies, he moved to New York and gained a position as the assistant conductor at the New York Philharmonic. It was there that he had his major conducting debut on very short notice, as a guest conductor had gotten sick. That particular concert was broadcast on the radio and made him an overnight success leading to guest conducting positions across the country.

At this time, he also began work on his own compositions, writing the score to Jerome Robbins’ ballet Fancy Free, that he later developed into the musical On the Town with Betty Comden and Adolph Green. While writing he began to conduct orchestras around the world that played or premiered symphonies and operas. In 1957, he was appointed the music director of the New York Philharmonic and began work on the score of two more of his most iconic musical works. The first was Candide, an operetta based on Voltaire’s famous novel. His most famous work, however, was on the score for the musical West Side Story, which has become his most enduring and well-loved score, which was immortalized in its classic movie adaptation.

In his later years, Bernstein continued to conduct operas and symphonies all over the globe that were broadcast on radio and television to reach wide audiences. He retired from conducting in 1990 and passed away later that year. Over the course of his career, he won several Grammy awards for his music and conducting, as well as a Tony award for the score of On the Town.


Shows by Leonard Bernstein

Title
Synopsis

Based on Voltaire’s 1759 novella of the same name, Candide takes the audience on a round-the-world romp of idealistic optimism as it clashes with a series of absurdly unfortunate events. The young and naïve title character i... read more

With the pomp and fanfare of New York City, the brassy lyricism of Leonard Bernstein, and the sweet immediacy of a day of freedom during a time of war, On the Town is an American classic, beloved both for its moment in histor... read more

Inspired by the timeless story of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story takes Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, and places them in the vibrant battleground of New York City’s West Side in the 1950s. In the midst of the deep-seat... read more

Based on the earlier play, My Sister Eileen by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov , Tony-award winning Wonderful Town is a bright and cheery love letter to the colorful experience of living life in New York. Wonderful Town te... read more

Overview

Nationality
American
Born
8/25/1918
Died
10/14/1990
Show Categories
Operetta, Musical
Genres
Comedy, Drama

Clips