Leonard Bernstien: A Legendary Composer Essay

1502 words - 6 pages

Leonard Bernstein is seen as one of the greatest composers in America. Bernstein composed great music, conducted great music, and also preformed great music as a pianist. Bernstein is probably most known for his film score in the production West Side Story. According to The New York Times, he was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history.” Being born and educated in the United States, Bernstein was the first American to obtain worldwide acclaim. He is also cited in the Encyclopedia of World Biography, that “his special gift of bridging the gap between the concert hall and the world of Broadway made him one of the most glamorous musical figures of his day.”

Bernstein was born in August 25, 1918, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Bernstein was born, Louis, per his grandmother’s request; however his parents always called him Leonard. Eventually, Bernstein had his name legally changed shortly after his grandmother passed away. Music captivated Bernstein at a young age. At first, Bernstein’s dad was opposed to his pursuit, but eventually took him to concerts and supported his interest. The event that sparked Bernstein’s music interest the most was when he was given his cousin’s piano. The piano had always intrigued Bernstein; he enjoyed listening to it. After receiving the piano, Bernstein began to teach himself how to play. Eventually, Bernstein became so good at the piano that he and his sister would play full symphonies by Beethoven together. Bernstein’s love for music continued to blossom and seemed as if it was ever-growing.
Bernstein took music very seriously and wanted to continue learning all he could about music. Bernstein attended Garrison and Boston Latin School as a child. Later, Bernstein attended Harvard with a major in Music. According to Jamie Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein’s daughter, Bernstein could not obtain enough information about anything, this including music and Shakespeare. She said that “His brain was on fire with curiosity. And what he loved most was to communicate his excitement to others.” Bernstein was greatly involved at Harvard. He was an avid member of the Harvard Glee Club. After graduating from Harvard, Bernstein continued to study music in Philadelphia at Curtis Institute of Music. At this school, Bernstein studied orchestration. According to New World Encyclopedia, Bernstein received the only ‘A’ that Fritz Reiner ever gave out in his conducting class. While at Curtis, Bernstein studied with, and was influenced by, great musicians and pianists, such as Heinrich Gebhard and Isabella Vengerova. After studying at Curtis, Bernstein attended the Berkshire Music Festival that following summer. That summer he met Serge Koussevitzky. He became the protégé of Koussevitzky.
Bernstein blossomed from his educational successes and later, in 1943, caught his big break, according to PBS. Bernstein was signed on as the assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Bernstein...

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