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.