Leonard Bernstein (1918 - 1990)

Donald Macleod explores Bernstein's life and work - as an inexhaustible conductor, educator, performer and personality.

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
COTW02*20050531

More music from Bernstein's Broadway years, presented by Humphrey Burton from NEW YORK.

Today, excerpts from the one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti (1952), a study in domestic discord composed on his honeymoon, and Wonderful Town (1953), a blissfully nostalgic evocation of Greenwich Village in the swing era, starring Rosalind Russell.

Guests in Manhattan include Seymour Lipkin who conducted the premier of Tahiti, and producer Harold Prince who worked as a stage manager on Wonderful Town.

COTW03*20050601

Humphrey Burton continues his survey of Bernstein's work for Broadway, with excerpts from the satirical operetta Candide (1956) and incidental music for The Lark (1955), his earlier collaboration with the playwright Lillian Hellman.

In NEW YORK, Humphrey Burton's guests include the poet Richard Wilbur who wrote many of Candide's lyrics, and in LONDON, Denis Quilley who sang Candide in the first LONDON production.

COTW04*20050602

Humphrey Burton presents excerpts from Mass (1971), the Jerome Robbins ballet the Dybbuk (1974) and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (1976), Bernstein's ill-fated collaboration with Alan Jay Lerner.

Among today's guests are the composer's daughter, Jamie Bernstein Thomas, who has performed in Mass, and Patricia Routledge, who played the First Lady in the original production of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which she described as a diamond studded dinosaur.

COTW05 LAST*20050603

Humphrey Burton rounds up his week on Broadway with Bernstein's most popular work, West Side Story (1957).

With the book by Arthur Laurents, choreography by Jerome Robbins and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the team was in Sondheim's words "a unique concatenation of people".

With contributions from the orchestrator Sid Ramin, a friend of Bernstein's since childhood, and producer Ruth Mitchell, production manager on the original production.

COTW-0201Early Influences2008031020100906

Despite his prowess on the podium, Bernstein considered himself to be first and foremost a composer.

The programme explores his early influences, from weekly visits to the local synagogue in Boston to his years as a student at Harvard University.

A chance meeting with Aaron Copland led to Bernstein's entree into New York's elite cultural circles.

Shivaree

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Jorge Mester (conductor)

Hashkiveinu

Hans Peter Blochwitz (tenor)

Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ)

BBC Singers

Arnal Ital (conductor)

Seven Anniversaries

Leonard Bernstein (piano)

Symphony No 1 (Jeremiah)

Christa Ludwig (mezzo-soprano)

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Leonard Bernstein (conductor)

I Hate Music!

Jennie Tourel (mezzo-soprano)

Donald Macleod explores the extraordinary life of Leonard Bernstein; inexhaustible conductor, educator, performer and personality.

Despite his prowess on the podium, Bernstein considered himself to be first and foremost a composer.

The first programme explores his early influences, from weekly visits to the local synagogue in Boston, to his years as a student at Harvard University.

Donald Macleod explores Bernstein early influences and student years.

COTW-02022008031120100907

Donald Macleod looks at how Bernstein was catapulted into the limelight after taking the baton at the last minute in place of the ailing Bruno Walter in a broadcast with the New York Philharmonic.

There is also a profile of Bernstein's beloved Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and a recording of his Prelude, Fugue and Riffs, first performed in the composer's second appearance on the television programme Omnibus.

I Am Easily Assimilated (Old Lady's Tango from Candide)

Old Lady....Christa Ludwig (mezzo-soprano)

London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra

Leonard Bernstein (conductor)

Serenade (after Plato's Symposium) (1st and 2nd mvts)

Itzak Perlman (violin)

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Seiji Ozawa (conductor)

Symphony No 2 (Age of Anxiety) (Part 2)

Lukas Foss (piano)

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Prelude, Fugue and Riffs

Benny Goodman (clarinet)

Columbia Jazz Combo

Glitter and be Gay (Candide, Act 1)

Cunegonde....June Anderson (soprano)

London Symphony Orchestra

Bernstein always seems to have been in the right place at the right time.

Seven years to the day since meeting his mentor Aaron Copland, he gallantly took the baton at the last minute of the ailing Bruno Walter in a broadcast with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Thus Bernstein was catapulted into the limelight.

Donald Macleod also explores his beloved Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and we'll hear 'Prelude, Fugue and Riffs', first performed in Bernstein's second appearance on the television programme 'Omnibus'.

Donald Macleod looks at how Bernstein was suddenly catapulted into the limelight.

COTW-0203New York2008031220100908

Donald Macleod considers why Bernstein's name has long been associated with the cultural fabric of New York City, from his lifelong relationship with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to his success on Broadway.

There is music from On the Town and West Side Story and the speaking voice of the composer's devoted wife Felicia performing in part two of his third symphony Kaddish.

New York, New York (On the Town)

Adolph Green, John Reardon, Cris Alexander (vocals)

On the Town Dances

New York Philharmonic Orchestra

Leonard Bernstein (conductor)

Tonight (America - West Side Story)

Anita....Tatiana Troyanos (mezzo-soprano)

Rosalia....Louise Edeiken (mezzo-soprano)

Riff....Kurt Ollmann (baritone)

Maria....Kiri Te Kanawa (soprano)

Tony....Jose Carreras (tenor)

Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Leonard Bernstein

Din-Torah (Symphony No 3) (Kaddish)

Felicia Montealegre (speaker)

Jennie Tourel (mezzo-soprano)

'New York, New York, that helluva town' is the focus of this third programme.

Bernstein's name has long been associated with the cultural fabric of the city, from his lifelong relationship with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to his success on Broadway.

Donald Macleod features music from On the Town and West Side Story.

We'll also hear the speaking voice of Bernstein's devoted wife Felicia performing in part II of his third symphony 'Kaddish'.

Donald Macleod looks at why Bernstein's name is linked with the culture of New York City.

COTW-0204Bad Times2008031320100909

Donald Macleod examines a turbulent period in Bernstein's life, when his seemingly idyllic existence was threatened.

The composer blamed his wife Felicia for his Broadway flop 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue - after she had apparently encouraged him to work with its librettist.

Then there was the period when he left his wife briefly for his assistant Thomas Cothran.

Bernstein's relationship with Cothran resulted in their collaboration on Songfest - A Cycle of American Poems, which is played here in its entirety.

Take Care of this House (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue)

Frederica von Stade (mezzo-soprano)

National Symphony Orchestra

Leonard Bernstein (conductor)

Songfest - A Cycle of American Poems for Six Singers and Orchestra

Clamma Dale, Rosalind Elias, Nancy Williams, Neil Rosenshein, John Reardon, Donald Gramm (soloists)

National Symphony Orchestra of Washington

Presto (Three Meditations for Cello and Orchestra, Mass)

Mstislav Rostropovich (cello)

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Bernstein's seemingly perfect life as a loving husband and father, an exceptional musical talent and an electric personality are in jeopardy in this fourth programme.

Donald Macleod maps a category of bad events in Bernstein's life.

He blamed his wife Felicia for his Broadway flop 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; she'd apparently encouraged him to work with its librettist.

But Bernstein's affair with his assistant Thomas Cothran, for whom he momentarily left his wife, was a harsher blow.

Bernstein's relationship with Cothran resulted in their collaboration on 'Songfest - A Cycle of American Poems', played here in its entirety.

Donald Macleod examines a turbulent period in Bernstein's life following a Broadway flop.

COTW-0205 LASTThe Final Years2008031420100910

Donald Macleod explores how Felicia Bernstein's death in June 1978, not long after the reconciliation with her husband, left a gaping void in Bernstein's life.

Bernstein began contemplating his own mortality and much of the music from his final decade is autobiographical, including a song cycle named after a remark by President Eisenhower - who preferred music with a good tune, 'not all them Arias and Barcarolles'.

Arias and Barcarolles: Prelude; Love Duet; Little Smary; Greeting

Judy Kaye (soprano)

William Sharp (baritone)

Michael Barrett, Steven Blier (piano)

Divertimento for orchestra

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Marin Alsop (conductor)

A Quiet Place (Postlude to Act I)

ORF-Symphinie-Orchester

Leonard Bernstein (conductor)

Diaspora Dances (Concerto for Orchestra, Jubilee Games)

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Missa Brevis

Simon Baker (countertenor)

Richard Benjafield, Chris Brannick (percussion)

BBC Singers

Justin Doyle (chorus master).

Donald Macleod discovers that Bernstein's final years were anything but quiet despite declining health with much of his work being autobiographical.

Felicia Bernstein's death in June 1978, not long after the reconciliation with her husband, left a gaping void in Bernstein's life.

He began contemplating his own mortality and leaving a legacy in his final decade is including a song cycle named after a remark by President Eisenhower who preferred music with a good tune, "not all them Arias and Barcarolles".

Works featured in this programme include 'The Great American Opera' and 'A Quiet Place'.

Donald Macleod on how after his wife's death, Bernstein focused on his own mortality.