Leonard Bernstein was a famed 20th century musical figure who was a composer, conductor, writer, and coach. Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1918 and began studying piano at age ten. Two years later he started out piano studies with Susan Williams at the New England Conservatory of Music.

His mother and father wanted Leonard to have a career that they considered was more practical and sent him to the Boston Latin School in the course of his teenager years. Right after graduating, he attended Harvard University, where he majored in music and trained with Walter Piston. While studying there, he met Aaron Copland who influenced Leonard greatly. Then he wrote a stage composition, The Birds which was a creation of an ancient Greek comedy. This performance in 1939 was Leonard’s first appearance as a conductor. Bernstein wanted to become a concert pianist, but upon graduating he began to seriously study orchestration at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

During the summer, Leonard Bernstein studied music with the great conductor, Serge Koussevitzky with the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood. In 1942, Koussevitzky asked Bernstein if he wished to be an assistant conductor at Tanglewood because of his emotionally enriched performances. Immediately after the performance, Arthur Rodzinzki requested him to become an assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. The crowd went wild after he conducted Schumann, Rozsa, Strauss, and Wagner’s scores. The New York Times and many other news resources throughout the region wrote that “A new luminary had arrived.” Rodzinski was swift to capitalize on this prospect for Bernstein and scheduled him to rehearse and conduct the orchestra in 4 concerts the following calendar month.

On January 28, 1944, Bernstein wrote a symphony called Jeremiah. It won the New York Music Critics' Circle award for best American work. He then created a ballet called Fancy Free, and premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House, and wrote a musical called On the Town which opened on Broadway.

He was also the conductor of the New York City Symphony from 1945 to 1948, where he worked without cost. In 1954 he wrote the movie score to On the Waterfront, and in 1956 he was named one among two principal conductors from the New York Philharmonic, sharing the process with Dimitri Mitropoulos. Leonard married Felicia Montealegre Cohn in 1951 and had 3 kids.

In 1957, West Side Story premiered at the Winter Garden Theater in New York. This dramatic musical had turn into one of Bernstein’s popular compositions. The Winter Garden production of West Side Story ran for 732 performances before it started out to tour around the world. This favorite musical have grown to be a film in 1961 and starred Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood.

In 1958, Bernstein became the sole music director of the New York Philharmonic, the first American-born conductor (and the youngest conductor) to earn that post in the 116-year history of the orchestra. He remained at the job until 1969, when he was named laureate conductor for life. In 1969, Leonard stepped down, after he had conducted more concerts than any of his predecessors and had programmed 36 world premieres which made become a musical celebrity-at-large. He conducted all over the world, attended festivals in his honor, and wrote books.

Bernstein made a Metropolitan Opera debut in 1972, conducting Bizet's Carmen, as well as a concert celebration for his 60th birthday at Wolf Trap. On Leonard’s 70th birthday, he took the Vienna Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic on European tours. Bernstein’s final New York concert was at Carnegie Hall on March 11, 1990, and final conducting appearance was at Tanglewood on August 19. On October 14th in New York, only a couple months afterwards, Bernstein died of old age.

Leonard Bernstein’s extraordinary conducting performances and recordings of Mahler’s symphonies launched Mahler’s music to the world. Bernstein furthermore launched a number of other American composers like Elliot Carter, Milton Babbitt, John Cage, and Gunther Schuller to his audiences. Leonard Left a great legacy behind for the world and will most likely remain a long lasting iconic figure in American classical music.

The author is a published writer and artist and has written for various sources and assignment as well as the site http://playable-sheet-music.com/

Leonard Bernstein music notes for piano, vocal selections and scores to pices such as West Side Story, Candide and many other selections can be found at piano sheet music.

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