Wednesday, April 11, 2012


After listening to Bernstein's final composition, Dance Suite, I've been thinking about the composer and his career.  Bernstein grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts and studied at Harvard and the Curtis Institute of Music.  He continued his studies at the Tanglewood Festival before being appointed the assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1943.  He went on to conduct the New York City Orchestra and also teach at the Tanglewood Festival.  He was the music director for the New York Philharmonic from 1958-1969.  He compositional output as well as teaching and conducting engagements are numerous. 

In class we began to discuss his legacy as a composer and also questioned how he would feel about being recognized for his popular works, as opposed to his serious work.   Jamie Bernstein depicts her father as a man with two contradicting personalities.  He was influenced, and enjoyed, the popular music of his time while facing opposition in composing that very same genre from his teachers.  He was extremely interested in people while still having an introverted side.  I think his personality is evident in the way he blends classical and popular styles making them one.  Although he wrote more serious works, including the Mass, he seems to be best known for his more "popular" orientated music.  It's hard to tell how Bernstein would react to his best-known works being those in the popular style but his music is much like his personality.  Maybe after you meet the energetic outgoing side you'll want to get to know him better and be willing to listen to his more serious work.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting to check Bernstein conducting videos out. If you didn't know about the fame he gained from his more popular work, you would never guess he wrote that sort of music from those. The passion and engagement he shows when conducting is amazing and his versatility as an artist is quite extraordinary.