The Genius of Leonard Bernstein

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classical Music, Sunday 11 October 9pm

Leonard Bernstein conducts with his eyebrows

This week Catherine Bott asks, ‘What made Leonard Bernstein a genius?’

Bernstein died 25 years ago on 14 October 1990 and his legacy is enduring. There are superb compositions for the concert hall, the opera house, and for stage and film – not forgetting recordings as conductor and pianist, along with his educational videos and publications. In addition, his students and protégés are at the forefront of classical music all around the world.

Tonight we hear Bernstein in Broadway mode with music from Candide, On the Town and West Side Story. We hear him at the piano playing Gershwin, and as a conductor, Bernstein directs Beethoven’s Symphony No.3 (‘Eroica’) and Mahler’s Symphony No.1 (‘Titan’), made during his tenure at the New York Philharmonic, when he not only rejuvenated a great American orchestra but became the national face of classical music.

And beyond the bluster and bombast, there’s Bernstein the deeply sensitive religious composer – with the Chichester Psalms and a simple song from his Mass.

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