Leonard Bernstein (born Louis Bernstein) was an American conductor, composer, pianist, author and lecturer. Widely considered to be one of the most influential and dynamic musicians in American history, Bernstein was born in Lawrence, MA and rose to prominence during his tenure as conductor for the New York Philharmonic and became famous in large part because of the music he composed for West Side Story. Bernstein graduated from Harvard in 1939 and in 1945 was appointed Music Director of the New York City Symphony Orchestra. By 1958, he was the Music Director for the New York Philharmonic, where he conducted more concerts than any previous conductor until 1969. In 1985, Bernstein was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Bernstein (1961) authored many books about music, including Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts, in which he details how the timbre of music appears to him as different colors and informs the way he orchestrates compositions. Bernstein was a tireless supporter of human rights and received as many awards for his humanitarian efforts as he did for his contribution to American music.
Leonard Bernstein © Jon Stich 2012