Leonard Bernstein, 1918 - 1990

portrait of Leonard Bernstein
In rehearsal, photo by Marion S. Trikosko, U.S. News & World Report staff (1 September 1971)

Born: 25 August 1918, Lawrence, Massachusetts
Died: 14 October 1990, New York City

Originally named Louis at his grandmother's insistence, his parents preferred Leonard and he changed it officially at fifteen. He studied at Boston Latin School, then attended Harvard University followed by Curtis Institute of Music. At Curtis he received the only A that Fritz Reiner ever gave. Bisexual during his early years at New York, he married in 1951 on the advice of a mentor who felt it would enhance his chances at landing the position of conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He was a conducting assistant at the BSO for some years, then was in charge of the orchestral and conducting departments at Tanglewood, the summer institute operated by that orchestra. As assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, his conducting debut came when Bruno Walter came down with the flu. The concert was broadcast nationally and was met by rave reviews. He became principal conductor of the Philharmonic in 1958, holding the post through 1969. He conducted and recorded with them for the rest of his life. He elevated the Young People's Concerts at the Philharmonic in 1958, with 53 concerts (four per year) broadcast on CBS and in forty other countries during his tenure. Bernstein conducted the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, both in concert and in recordings, from 1970, and was a frequent guest conductor with Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in the '80s. In addition to conducting he was also an active composer of symphonic works, opera, and the musical West Side Story. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 1980. A longtime smoker, his last concert at Tanglewood was interrupted by a coughing fit; he died of pneumonia less than a month later.

Biography from Wikipedia and Fyne Times

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