What classical music is featured in Bradley Cooper’s Bernstein biopic ‘Maestro’?

20 December 2023, 17:05 | Updated: 20 December 2023, 17:27

All the classical music featured in Bradley Cooper’s ‘Maestro’, from Leonard Bernstein to Beethoven.
All the classical music featured in Bradley Cooper’s ‘Maestro’, from Leonard Bernstein to Beethoven. Picture: Alamy

By Siena Linton

‘Maestro’ has officially landed on Netflix, bringing with it an epic soundtrack of Mahler, Beethoven, and Leonard Bernstein himself. Here’s everything you need to know about all the classical music featured, and its performers.

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Bradley Cooper’s biopic on the life of American conductor Leonard Bernstein, Maestro, landed on Netflix in December 2023. Packed to the rafters with some of the greatest music from the 20th century and beyond, the highly-acclaimed film has brought classical music to a whole new audience.

From an epic Ely Cathedral scene with the London Symphony Orchestra to a serene solo piano moment from Leonard Bernstein in his later years, classical music sits at the forefront of this blockbuster.

As director, Cooper allows Bernstein’s music to shine through every element of the film, with a soundtrack made up almost entirely of the composer’s own music, which ranged from symphonic masterworks, to opera, ballet, Broadway musicals, and jazzed-up choral masses.

The film also features music by Beethoven, William Walton, and a memorable Mahler symphony in an uncanny recreation of Leonard Bernstein’s 1973 concert in Ely Cathedral.

According to record label Deutsche Grammophon, the musical choices in the film were all Cooper’s own.

The soundtrack mostly consists of new recordings by the London Symphony Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who taught Cooper to conduct in Bernstein’s signature style, and also includes archive Bernstein recordings.

Bradley Cooper also learned to play piano for the film, and whilst it’s really his hands we see on the keyboard, the final recording on the soundtrack is by Victoria Ruggiero.

Read more: Leonard Bernstein: 10 best pieces of music by the American maestro

Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan on Bernstein, Mahler, and the making of ‘Maestro’

Maestro focuses on the life and marriage of conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, played by Bradley Cooper, and his wife, Felicia Montealegre Bernstein, portrayed by Carey Mulligan.

“[Bernstein] was punk rock,” Cooper told Classic FM. “And he was just so intoxicating. Everybody that we spoke to talked about how when he walked in the room, he just took over. He just had talent dripping off him.”

The pinnacle moment of the movie sees Cooper as Bernstein, conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s euphoric Symphony No.2 in Ely Cathedral – a moment that took over six years of preparation, to film in a single take.

With a triumphant flourish of his conductor’s baton, Bradley Cooper brings the London Symphony Orchestra to a roaring finale, in one of 2023’s most monumental cinematic scenes.

Cooper told Classic FM that the experience felt like he was “levitating above the orchestra”.

“The one thing I knew we had was nuclear energy in his music,” Cooper said. “The whole movie is written to his music! It is one symphonic musical element, the movie itself.”

His hope for the movie, the actor said, is that more people will turn to the music of Leonard Bernstein after watching the film. “And hopefully Gustav Mahler as well,” he added.

Read more: Bradley Cooper says he was ‘levitating above the orchestra’ in surreal Maestro conducting scene

How Yannick Nézet-Séguin taught Bradley Cooper to conduct like Bernstein | Classic FM

So, whether you’re a newcomer or a longtime lover of classical music, dig in to Maestro’s sensational soundtrack and the work of the 20th century’s greatest musical icon. After all, it’s what Bradley Cooper wants...

All the pieces of music featured in Maestro – full list

  • Leonard Bernstein – ‘Symphonic Suite’ from On the Waterfront
  • Robert Schumann – Manfred Overture
  • Leonard Bernstein – ‘Galop’, ‘Enter Three Sailors’, and ‘Fancy Free: Variation 5’ from Fancy Free
  • Leonard Bernstein – ‘Lonely Town. Pas de Deux’, ‘I Get Carried Away/You’ve Got That Look’, and ‘New York, New York’ from On the Town
  • Leonard Bernstein – Interlude from Trouble in Tahiti
  • Leonard Bernstein – ‘Paris Waltz’, ‘Make Our Garden Grow’, and Overture from Candide
  • Leonard Bernstein – Molto adagio from Facsimile
  • Leonard Bernstein – Anniversaries for Orchestra No.10: For Felicia Montealegre
  • Leonard Bernstein – ‘To What You Said’ from Songfest
  • Gustav Mahler – ‘Adagietto’ from Symphony No.5
  • Leonard Bernstein – Prologue from West Side Story
  • Leonard Bernstein – ‘Pax Communion’ from MASS
  • William Walton – ‘Sir Beelzebub’ from Facade
  • Gustav Mahler – Finale from Symphony No.2, ‘Resurrection’
  • Leonard Bernstein – Prologue from Symphony No.2, ‘The Age of Anxiety’
  • Lincoln Chase – The Clapping Song
  • Leonard Bernstein – Postlude from A Quiet Place
  • Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No.8
  • Leonard Bernstein – Psalm 23 from Chichester Psalms
  • Leonard Bernstein – ‘Din-Torah’ from Symphony No.3, ‘Kaddish’