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Profile of Leonard Bernstein



August 25, 1918


Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S.A.


October 14, 1990 in New York, New York, U.S.A.

Also Known As:

He was an American composer of classical and popular music, a music educator, conductor, songwriter and pianist. In 1953, he became the first American to conduct at La Scala in Milan. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.

Type of Compositions:

He wrote, among others, symphonies, musicals, ballets, film scores and other stage works.


Bernstein played the piano as a young boy. He graduated from Harvard University in 1939 where he studied composition with Walter Piston. From 1939 to 1941, he attended Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he studied conducting with Serge Koussevitzky and Fritz Reiner.

Musical Work:

Among his works are: Musicals like "West Side Story," "On the Town," "Wonderful Town" and "Candide." Ballet scores for "Fancy Free," "Facsimile" and "Dybbuk." Also, "Symphony No. 1," "Chichester Psalms," "Kaddish" and "The Age of Anxiety." Bernstein also did the musical score for the film "On the Waterfront." His "Mass" was performed in 1971 during the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Bernstein collaborated several times with choreographer Jerome Robbins and lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

Interesting Fact:

Bernstein became the musical director and conductor of the New York Philharmonic. In 1964, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera House. He also appeared on television shows such as "Omnibus" and "Young People's Concerts," shows which were meant for children. He also published several of the lectures he conducted at Harvard, such as "Young People's Concerts, for Reading and Listening."

His other works include "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs" and "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue." In 1951, Bernstein married Felicia Montealegre Cohn, an actress. They had 3 children.

Related CD:

Related Video:

Watch a recording of Leonard Bernstein conducting a lecture at Harvard University ("The Unanswered Question" lecture series) courtesy of YouTube.

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