ON THIS DAY | Composer & Conductor Leonard Bernstein Was Born in 1918

Bernstein is remembered as one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians of all time

(Photo credit: Courtesy of the Leonard Bernstein Office)


American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein was born on this day 103 years ago.

Hopefully, people remember the "many ways [Bernstein] found throughout his lifetime to harness the power of music to connect people at their most open-hearted level, and thereby to make the world a better place," his daughter Jamie Bernstein told The Violin Channel.

(Photo credit: Courtesy of the Leonard Bernstein Office)

Bernstein was a pianist, composer, conductor, and teacher, known for his energetic presence and showmanship on stage.

The first American-born conductor to lead a major symphony orchestra, he served as the longtime music director of the New York Philharmonic. During his tenure there, he often played his own pieces, conducting them from the piano.


(Photo credit: Courtesy of the Leonard Bernstein Office) 

Bernstein is often credited with making classical music more accessible, as he was the first conductor to widely broadcast the genre on television — such as the New York Philharmonic's Young People's Concerts, which grew out of his classical music-focused TV series "Omnibus." He also worked throughout his life in support of various political and humanitarian causes: in support of civil rights and HIV/AIDS research; against the Vietnam War and nuclear weaponry.

Bernstein wrote a number of stage and orchestral works — sometimes with the influence of jazz and pop music. Notable works include the highly acclaimed musical "West Side Story," operetta "Candide," and Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety."

He studied at Harvard University and the Curtis Institute of Music. During his lifetime, he received 11 Emmy Awards and 17 Grammy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement and Kennedy Center Honor. He died in 1990, at 72 years old.




(Photo credit: Courtesy of the Leonard Bernstein Office)