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 fifth and final week:
Leonard Bernstein – Chichester Psalms (1965)
This work was commisioned for the Southern Cathedrals Festival at Chichester Cathedral (hence the name). Berstein recorded it with the New York Philharmonic in 1965, and again in 1977 with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Bela Bartok – Concerto for Orchestra
Bernstein programmed this work for the New York Philharmonic’s 1959/60 season. He first conducted movements of it in a Young People’s Concert on March 28, 1959. He later conducted it November 26-28, as part of the orchestra’s subscription series. Bernstein and the NYP recorded the work November 30. Bernstein and the orchestra also performed the concerto in two runout performances in early December 1959.
Leonard Bernstein – Concerto for Orchestra (1986)
This was one of Bernstein’s last completed compositions. He reworked a previous composition, “Jubilee Games,” adding two new movements. Bernstein dedicated the work to the Israel Philharmonic. The orchestra, conducted by Bernstein, recorded the concerto in 1989 for Deutsches Grammophon.
Johannes Brahms – Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15
Glenn Gould performed the concerto with the New York Philharmonic in 1982. Bernstein created a minor scandal with a speech before the performance, seemingly distancing himself from Gould’s interpretation.
Leonard Berstein – Overture to “Candide” (1956)
Lilliam Hellman suggested to Bernstein that they adapt Voltaire’s novella as an operetta. The work underwent continual script and musical revision, with numbers being added, dropped, and reshuffled. At one point Hellman withdrew her adaptation. The Overture, though, has remained virtually unchanged since its debut.