Leonard Bernstein, Larger than Life

A Portrait by Georg Wübbolt

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Leonard Bernstein — Conductor, composer

Jamie Bernstein

Alexander Bernstein

Nina Bernstein

Stephen Sondheim

Program notes

A passionate composer and conductor, brilliant pianist, dynamic pedagogue, and de facto American ambassador to the world, Leonard Bernstein was without a doubt of the most influential classical musicians of the 20th century. In this documentary portrait, Bernstein’s children (Jamie, Alexander, and Nina) and colleagues (Gustavo Dudamel, Kent Nagano, Marin Alsop, Christoph Eschenbach, Norman Lebrecht, among others...) reminisce about this larger-than-life man of near-universal appeal.

A colorful character with a complex yet endearing personality, Leonard Bernstein had a talent for wowing young fans with his flamboyant style and flair for teaching. From the conductor’s podium to the piano to the silver screen, his creative gifts knew no limits. In the 1950s, he fascinated a generation with his wildly popular television shows Omnibus and Young People’s Concerts. From the podium, he offered fresh musical interpretations that proved to be an incredible boon for classical music, reviving interest in particular in the music of Gustav Mahler and advocating for the music of American composers. In his compositions, he skillfully blurred the line between popular and art music, producing masterfully-written, highly accessible works like the musicals On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide, and West Side Story.



Photo: © fotofest

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