Jazz Roots Leonard Bernstein
Bernstein's jazz-infused kaleidoscope of music, from symphonies to cherished songs, stole our hearts. Commemorating 100 years of his extraordinary legacy are jazz giants, Ann Hampton Callaway, Jon Secada, Kirk Whalum, Shelly Berg and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. BY MILES HOFFMAN
August 25, 2018 03:55 AM
Updated August 25, 2018 05:48 PM
I’m still not used to a world without Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein was born Aug. 25, 1918 — 100 years ago this week; he’s already been gone almost 30 years.
The thing is, Bernstein is irreplaceable. It’s a cliché in the popular field of amateur Bernstein psychoanalysis that he thought the world revolved around him — descriptions of his ego usually have words like “monstrous” attached to them. But if that’s indeed what Bernstein thought, he was at least in part going by the evidence. He was a giant international superstar — a brilliant and charismatic composer, pianist, teacher, writer, television pioneer and celebrity; a prodigiously prolific recording artist; and the first American conductor to achieve worldwide respect, honor and fame. There had certainly been no one like him previously, and there’s been no one to match him since.
Here are his most famous works: “West Side Story,” “On the Waterfront,” “Peter Pan,” “Candide,” “Wonderful Town,” “On the Town,” “Mass,” and three symphonies.
Bernstein grew up on music of the synagogue, but also on jazz. He remained tightly and warmly tied to his Jewish identity while consciously doing everything possible to universalize himself. He was a conductor and also a composer; a classical composer and also a Broadway composer; a devoted servant of music and also an extraordinarily — well, monstrously — egotistical exhibitionist; a promiscuous sexual adventurer and also a loving and devoted family man; a generous, humane, thoughtful human being and also a silly, childishly self-indulgent one; a lover of women and also, or primarily,