Happy 100th Leonard Bernstein
Today marks 100 years since the birth of one of my ultimate heroes: Leonard Bernstein. I’m sure the internet is flooded with tributes and memories, and I don’t want to try and compete with all that. Particularly with those lucky few recounting actual personal stories and memories.
So I’ll just make 2 short points: As a teacher and communicator, he didn’t talk AT you, he invited you to listen, and so it was with his music. He never lost (as we composers so easily do) the sense of the LISTENER’S perspective, and as such it’s no wonder his music remains just as relevant, powerful and UNIVERSAL today. Just look at the video below (so often shared and yet so unendingly infectious) to see proof of that.
Secondly, LB wasn’t just a composer. He wasn’t just a conductor. And he wasn’t just ‘America’s music teacher.’ He brought all those things together in a package that was also brimming with style and graciousness. Everyone who ever met him, particularly those thousands of students with whom interactions were brief one-offs, all relayed the same message: when you spoke to him, he made you feel that you were the only person in the world that mattered. His focus was never divided and he never talked down to you.
For those and countless other reasons, I can think of no style, and perhaps no one, which the world could more greatly benefit from today
Happy 100th Maestro. You are an immortal.