Spotlight on: Leonard Bernstein
Famously known as the composer of West Side Story and Candide, Leonard Bernstein was a truly fascinating figure professionally and personally.
So before catching his famous musical operetta, Candide, discover what made him so exceptional.
6. The Youngest Person To Conduct the New York Philharmonic
Bernstein’s made a huge professional jump into the role of Assistant Conductor for the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, when he stepped in for a sick conductor with less than 24 hours notice. After flu-stricken Bruno-Walter couldn’t conduct, Bernstein’s performance put him in the front page of the New York Times the very next morning.
At 25 years old, Bernstein was the youngest person to ever conduct the New York Philharmonic. A fitting achievement, especially since he later served as its music director for over a decade.
7. Social Justice Pioneer
Whilst being a trailblazer in the music industry, Bernstein also championed many social justice causes throughout his life.
- He held concerts for unity and hope in Berlin shortly after the fall of the Wall.
- He conducted the Hiroshima Peace Concert in Japan 1985 in commemoration of the bombings, whilst being an activist for nuclear disarmament.
- And he participating in many civil rights marches and demonstrations.
8. Almost every accolade
Bernstein had no shortage of gongs to his name. He received 16 Grammy awards, an 7 Academy Awards and 2 Tony Awards, plus the Kennedy Center Honours, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Now that is a full pool room!
9. A gay man, who got married to a woman
Bernstein married actress, Felicia Montealegre Cohn in 1951, however she famously knew of Bernstein’s sexual preference, writing to him “You are a homosexual and may never change.” Despite his many affairs, they were happy together, having three children. They separated in 1976, but he moved back in with Felicia shortly after her diagnosis of Lung Cancer, which sadly led to her death in 1978.
10. Bernstein announced his retirement in 1990, but sadly died only 5 days later.
At age 72, Leonard passed away from a heart attack caused by lung failure, leaving behind an unforgettable legacy.
Witness the famous music of this extraordinary man at the Palais theatre, February 2023, in Candide – a musical theatre/opera fusion of philosophical wit and adventure.
Tickets linked below.
Author: Greta Doell