Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990

Alternative names
Birth 1918-08-25
Death 1990-10-14
English, Hebrew, German

Biographical notes:

American composer and conductor.

From the description of Typewritten letter signed, dated [n.p.], 10 November 1986, to Joan Peyser; Harry Kraut, Typewritten letters signed (2) on Leonard Bernstein stationery, dated New York, 22 March 1984 and 24 November 1986, to Joan Peyser; Burton Bernstein, Typewritten letter signed, dated New York, 9 September 1986, to Joan Peyser; Joan Peyser: Typewritten letter signed, dated New York, 15 July 1986, to Leonard Bernstein with comments in his hand, 1984 Mar. 22, 1986 Nov. 11. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270992177


From the description of Leonard Bernstein letter to Hans Heinsheimer, 1955 Apr. 21. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 301951245

From the description of Leonard Bernstein letter to Hans Heinsheimer, 1955 Mar. 29. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 301951242

From the description of Leonard Bernstein autograph letter to Hans Heinsheimer, 1949 Feb. 9. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 301799131

From the description of Leonard Bernstein letter to Hans Heinsheimer, probably 1954 June or July. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 301799134

From the description of Leonard Bernstein telegram to Hans Heinsheimer, 1952 June 23. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 301799132

Epithet: composer and conductor

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000208.0x000286

American conductor, composer, and pianist.

From the description of [Unidentified composition]. [1935?] (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270561866

Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov, librettists. Betty Comden and Adolph Green, lyricists. David Ives, adaptor.

From the description of Wonderful town: typescript, 2000. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122378590

Leonard Bernstein (b. August 25, 1918, in Lawrence, Massachusetts; d. October 14, 1990, in New York City) was an American composer, conductor, pianist, writer, and lecturer.

From the description of Leonard Bernstein collection : Part I, circa 1900-1994 (bulk 1933-1990). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 758101601

From the description of Leonard Bernstein collection : Part II, circa 1900-1994 (bulk 1933-1990). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 470850868

Biographical Sketch

  • 1918, Aug. 25: Born, Lawrence, Massachusetts, first child of Samuel and Jennie Bernstein
  • 1932: First piano recital Began piano studies with Helen Coates
  • 1935: Graduated from Boston Latin Began Freshman year at Harvard University Piano studies with Heinrich Gebhard
  • 1937: First professional appearance as a solo pianist with orchestra Met Aaron Copland, Adolph Green and Dimitri Mitropoulos
  • 1938: Music Editor, Harvard Advocate
  • 1939: Graduated from Harvard cum laude in music Composed and conducted score for The Birds Entered Curtis Institute, Philadelphia Studied conducting under Fritz Reiner Studied piano with Isabelle Vengerova Studied orchestration with Randall Thompson Studied score-reading with Renee Longy Miquelle
  • 1940: Studied conducting under Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood
  • 1941: Graduated from Curtis Institute
  • 1942: Published Sonata for Clarinet and Piano Assistant to Koussevitzky at Tanglewood Moved to New York Completed First Symphony, Jeremiah
  • 1943, Nov. 14: Substituted for Bruno Walter at Carnegie Hall concert
  • 1943: Appointed assistant conductor for New York Philharmonic by Artur Rodzinski
  • 1944: First performances of Jeremiah, Fancy Free and On the Town
  • 1945 - 1947 : Music director, New York City Symphony Orchestra
  • 1946: First European conducting appearances in Prague and London Conducted U.S. premiere of Britten's Peter Grimes
  • 1947: First visit to Israel Conducted in France, Belgium and Holland
  • 1948: Conducted concert at Beersheba during War of Independence First appearance as conductor in Munich, Budapest, Vienna, Milan and Rome
  • 1948 - 1949 : Musical advisor, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
  • 1949: Piano soloist in first performance of his Second Symphony, The Age of Anxiety, conducted by Koussevitzky
  • 1950: Premiere of Peter Pan
  • 1951: Appointed head of conducting studies at Tanglewood, following the death of Koussevitzky Married Felicia Montealegre Cohn
  • 1952: First performance of Trouble in Tahiti Daughter Jamie born Artistic director, Festival of Creative Arts, Brandeis University
  • 1953: First performance of Wonderful Town Conducted Medea at La Scala
  • 1954: Scored the film On the Waterfront First performance, in Venice, of Serenade First television appearance on Omnibus
  • 1955: Conducted Symphony of the Air season in New York Son Alexander born First performance of The Lark
  • 1956: Guest conductor, New York Philharmonic Orchestra Premiere of Candide
  • 1957: Premiere of West Side Story Conducted inaugural concert of Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv
  • 1957 - 1958 : Joint principal conductor, New York Philharmonic
  • 1958: Shared Latin-American tour with Dimitri Mitropoulos Conducted first of fourteen seasons of "Young People's Concerts"
  • 1958 - 1969 : Music director, New York Philharmonic
  • 1959: Toured Europe and Soviet Union with New York Philharmonic Published The Joy of Music. New York: Simon and Schuster
  • 1960: Mounted Mahler centenary season with New York Philharmonic
  • 1961: Toured Japan with New York Philharmonic Film version of West Side Story released
  • 1962: Daughter Nina born Conducted inaugural concert at Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center (later Avery Fisher Hall)
  • 1963: First performance of Third Symphony, Kaddish, in Tel Aviv
  • 1964: Sabbatical year from New York Philharmonic Conducted Falstaff at Metropolitan Opera
  • 1965: First performance of Chichester Psalms in New York and Chichester Commenced two-year survey of twentieth-century symphonic music with New York Philharmonic
  • 1966: First engagements with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera (Falstaff)
  • 1967: Conducted concert on Mount Scopus to mark reunification of Jerusalem Completed Mahler symphony cycle for CBS
  • 1968: Conducted Der Rosenkavalier at Vienna State Opera New York Philharmonic tour of Western Europe and Israel
  • 1969: Named lifetime Laureate Conductor on retirement from music directorship of New York Philharmonic Orchestra
  • 1970: Fund-raising meeting for Black Panthers held at Bernstein's residence Conducted bicentennial production of Beethoven's Fidelio in Vienna
  • 1970 - 1974 : Artistic advisor, Tanglewood
  • 1971: Premiere of Mass, inaugurating the Kennedy Center, Washington Conducted one-thousandth performance with New York Philharmonic
  • 1972: Conducted Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera
  • 1973: Delivered six Charles Eliot Norton lectures, "The Unanswered Question," at Harvard University Conducted for Pope Paul VI at the Vatican
  • 1974: First performance of Dybbuk ballet Led New York Philharmonic on tour of New Zealand, Australia and Japan
  • 1976: Premiere of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Trial separation from his wife
  • 1977: Reconciliation with wife First performance of Songfest
  • 1978, June 16: Felicia Bernstein died
  • 1979: Conducted Berlin Philharmonic in Mahler's Ninth Symphony
  • 1980: First performance of Divertimento Received the Kennedy Center Honor
  • 1981: Premiere of Halil Recorded Tristan und Isolde in Munich
  • 1982: Artistic director, Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute
  • 1983: Premiere of A Quiet Place at Houston Grand Opera
  • 1984: Revised A Quiet Place at La Scala Deutsche Grammophon recording of West Side Story Daughter Jamie married to David Evan Thomas
  • 1985: Journey for Peace at Hiroshima
  • 1986: Bernstein Festival at Barbican Centre, London Inaugurated Schleswig-Holstein Festival First performance of Jubilee Games
  • 1988: First performance of Arias and Barcarolles Four-day seventieth-birthday celebration at Tanglewood
  • 1990 June: Inaugurated the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan
  • 1990, August 19: Last concert with Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood
  • 1990, October 14: Died at 6:15 p.m. at home in New York

From the guide to the Leonard Bernstein Collection, circa 1900-1994, (bulk 1933-1990), (Music Division Library of Congress)


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  • Sacred songs (Medium voice) with organ
  • Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices) with instrumental ensemble
  • Musicals--Excerpts, Arranged--Scores
  • Musicals--Vocal scores with piano
  • String quartets, Arranged--Parts
  • Musicals--Excerpts--Scores
  • Jews--Music
  • Trombone music
  • Musical theater
  • Brass quartets (Horn, trombone, trumpet, tuba)--Scores
  • Vocal trios with orchestra--Piano scores
  • Songs (Medium voice) with piano--Scores
  • Songs (medium voice) with piano
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices, 6 parts), Unaccompanied
  • Hispanic American gangs--Drama
  • Tuba and piano music--Scores
  • Musical revues, comedies, etc.--Vocal scores with piano
  • Musicians--Correspondence
  • Incidental music--Excerpts--Vocal scores with piano
  • Sacred monologues with music (Chorus with orchestra)--Scores
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices, 4 parts) with piano
  • Cooking, French--Songs and music
  • Conductors (Music)--United States--Photographs
  • Songs with piano
  • Revues--Excerpts--Vocal scores with piano
  • Musicians--United States--Correspondence
  • Man-woman relationships--Drama
  • Composers--Portraits
  • Big band music, Arranged--Scores and parts
  • Psalms (Music)
  • Musical sketches
  • Gangs--Drama
  • Glees, catches, rounds, etc
  • Fanfares
  • Piano music (Pianos (2))
  • Composers--United States--Correspondence
  • Composers--Correspondence
  • Composers--United States--Photographs
  • Conductors (Music)--Portraits
  • Conductors (Music)--Correspondence
  • Synagogue music
  • Music--Manuscripts
  • Vocal music
  • Musicians--United States--Photographs
  • Horn and piano music--Scores
  • Songs (High voice) with piano
  • Violin with brass ensemble--Scores
  • Synagogue music--Sabbath services
  • Jazz--1981-1990
  • Piano music
  • Ballets--Excerpts--Piano scores
  • Musicians--Portraits
  • Song cycles--Excerpts
  • Conductors (Music)--United States--Correspondence
  • Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices, 4 parts) with organ
  • Musicals--Scores
  • Symphonies--Scores
  • Music--Manuscripts--Facsimiles
  • Overtures--Scores
  • Race relations--Drama
  • Music--Manuscripts--United States
  • Instrumental ensembles--Scores
  • Musicals--Excerpts, Arranged--Scores and parts
  • Musicals--Excerpts, Arranged--Parts
  • Trumpet and piano music--Scores


  • Composers
  • Conductor


  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)