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Leonard Bernstein and the Beatles

Magical History Tour IV

I watched a documentary on PBS last night about Leonard Bernstein, and it was extremely well done. He was the first real superstar conductor, no one paid any attention to American symphony conductors, and typically European ones would be imported for that critical post. But to have young, brash, and extremely energized Bernstein given the post for the New York Philharmonic was controversial. He got the post in part because of his work on West Side Story, that was a huge hit on Broadway.

Then they showed some footage of him teaching a large class the basics of symphonic music, he loved to share his knowledge and enthusiasm with others. He’s shown playing and singing “And I Love Her,” by the Beatles. But his piano part is considerably more complex, and his vocal ability is limited, and the schoolchildren look at each other in amazement. They could not believe this guy, playing a Beatles song.

But that was in character with Bernstein, he eagerly promoted and accepted new things that other people in the classical field would never have dreamed of. I believe Bernstein did an album of Beatles songs at one point. It was great watching Bernstein conduct, he totally was consumed by the music, physically and mentally, taking it to another dimension, the Jimi Hendrix of the baton.

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