August 2018 is the centennial of Leonard Bernstein’s birth. Many classical radio stations, performance groups, and writers marked the occasion. And so did #ClassicsaDay.
Bernstein was known as a composer, conductor, performer and an educator. Since #ClassicsaDay is primarily a music feed, I concentrated on the first two of those roles (and occasionally the third).
My contributions alternated between Bernstein the composer and Bernstein the conductor. And I tried to steer away from the more obvious choices for Bernstein compositions. His catalog is quite extensive, and I found it interesting to explore some of the lesser-known (and in some cases, less-successful) works.
Here are my posts for the third week:
Leonard Bernstein – Slava! A Political Overture, for Orchestra (1977)
Bernstein wrote “Slava!” for Mstislav Rostropovich’s inaugural concert as conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC. In the original version, a tape with snippets of Presidential political speeches is played in the background.
Richard Wagner – Liebestod from “Tristan und Isolde”
Bernstein conducted many of Wagner’s big orchestral hits. He recorded “Liebestod” with the New York Philharmonic in 1968. He also recorded it with the Bavarian Radio Symphony for Philips in 1981.
Leonard Bernstein – Piano Trio (1937)
The piano trio is a student piece, written while Bernstein was at Harvard. Ever the recycler, he reused part of the second movement seven years later in his score for “On the Town.”
Samuel Barber – Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 14
Bernstein first conducted Barber’s concerto with the New York Philharmonic in 1960. Aaron Rosand was the soloist. He recorded it with the orchestra four years later with violinist Isaac Stern.
Leonard Bernstein – Three Meditations from “Mass”, for Orchestra (1972)
“Mass” was written for the inauguration of the Kennedy Center, and involved over 200 performers. Two instrumental interludes were arranged for cello and piano for Mstislav Rostropovich. Bernstein later added a third, and the orchestral arrangement was premiered at the Kennedy Center in 1977 – with Berstein conducting and Rostropovich as the soloist.