Audio Slideshow: Leonard Bernstein at Work

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This feature first ran in 2010. We revive it in honor of Bernstein's 97th birth anniversary on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Steve J. Sherman is a familiar face to concertgoers in New York, not as a performer, but as the city's most prominent concert photographer. From mid-1980s until 2000, he was on call seven nights a week to document concerts for the New York Times. In roughly that same period he was the official house photographer for Carnegie Hall, where he continues to work frequently.

One of Sherman's most famous subjects has been Leonard Bernstein. His photographs of the iconic conductor and composer are featured in a new book called Leonard Bernstein at Work: His Final Years, 1984-1990. He tells Jeff Spurgeon about its genesis:


Steve Sherman narrates a selection of images from Leonard Bernstein at Work:

Leonard Bernstein in a Carnegie Hall dressing room November 17, 1985.
Steve J. Sherman
Leonard Bernstein in a Carnegie Hall dressing room, November 17, 1985.

 

 

Leonard Bernstein with Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman.
Steve J. Sherman
With Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman.



With Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman

Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall, November 26, 1985.
Steve J. Sherman
New York Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall; November 26, 1985.

 

 

Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic in Central Park; August 4, 1986.
Steve J. Sherman
New York Philharmonic in Central Park; August 4, 1986.

 

 

Leonard Bernstein conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Carnegie Hall; September 24, 1987
Steve J. Sherman
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Carnegie Hall; September 24, 1987.



Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Carnegie Hall; September 24, 1987

When it came time for Leonard Bernstein to rehearse, he appeared onstage draped in Nell Carter's purple boa and wearing shades, to the surprise and delight of everyone present.
Steve J. Sherman
When it came time for Leonard Bernstein to rehearse, he appeared onstage draped in Nell Carter's purple boa and wearing shades, to the surprise and delight of everyone present.

 

 

Grand finale, with all singing. Left to right: Madeline Kahn, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein, Shirley MacLaine, Walter Cronkite, Isaac Stern, Marilyn Horne, and Tony Bennett.
Steve J. Sherman
Irving Berlin 100th birthday gala concert. L-R: Madeline Kahn, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein, Shirley MacLaine, Walter Cronkite, Isaac Stern, Marilyn Horne, and Tony Bennett.



Irving Berlin 100th birthday gala concert. L-R: Madeline Kahn, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein, Shirley MacLaine, Walter Cronkite, Isaac Stern, Marilyn Horne, and Tony Bennett.

Leonard Bernstein conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall; June 24, 1988.
Steve J. Sherman
Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall; June 24, 1988.



Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall; June 24, 1988

Leonard Bernstein smokes a cigarette.
Steve J. Sherman
Leonard Bernstein smokes a cigarette at Avery Fisher Hall, June 24, 1988.



Leonard Bernstein smokes a cigarette in Avery Fisher Hall, June 24, 1988.

Leonard Bernstein conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Carnegie Hall; March 7, 1990
Steve J. Sherman
Conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, March 7, 1990. Bernstein's last performance at Carnegie Hall, and his last in New York.



Conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, March 7, 1990. Bernstein's last performance at Carnegie Hall, and his last in New York.

Hosted by:

Jeff Spurgeon

Produced by:

Brian Wise

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Comments [8]

Sharon M from Fair Lawn, NJ

In the mid-1950s my husband received a Bar Mitzvah gift of tickets to Bernstein conducting the NY Phil, playing a work by the Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim (or Ben-Chaim). Afterwards, back stage, my husband and his school friend got the composer's autograph and, being students at a Hebrew-language day school, eagerly spoke to Ben-Chaim in Hebrew. Bernstein overheard the Hebrew (not so common in New York in the 1950s), walked over to them, and insisted on also signing the kids' programs in Hebrew! What a thrill for two thirteen-year-olds!

Aug. 25 2015 08:26 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

He was not a great conductor. just dancing around.
Great showman. I remember watching Sunday afternoons when there was a series on different types of classical music. He made these sessions very interesting. Years ago, Trio TV retelecast this series. I watched it again.

Aug. 25 2015 11:15 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane

I commend Steve J. Sherman for his photographic eye.

Dec. 22 2010 08:25 PM

You guys are the best!!

Dec. 21 2010 04:26 PM
Antonio Conflitti.

Leonard Berstein was a genius. Everything he conducted even opera was marvelous.

Dec. 21 2010 01:25 PM
marilyn rey from Cambria Heights, NY

Steve Sherman is 100% correct in his position regarding black and white photography. It is also true in movies. Color dazzles, but black and white is more beautiful and allows the nuances of the acting and the story to be revealed more meaningfully. As an amateur, I shot loads of Ektachrome transparencies, but for quality, the 4x5 pix I shot and printed as a student are the best. One more point, look at the great black and white portraits by Yosef Karsh of Ottawa which provide additional proof that Mr Sherman is correct in his opinion regarding black and white photography.

Dec. 20 2010 07:36 PM
Daniel Rutkowski from New York

This is fantastic.

Dec. 20 2010 01:56 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane

LEONARD BERNSTEIN was greatly admired in Vienna and Berlin and all of Europe, indeed. His facial expressions, his body language while conducting, and his articulate explanation of the "mechanics" and methodologies of the architectural structuring in the various musical formats to young and old of the musical treasures, masterpieces, was sheer genius at work. He may not have been the "greatest" in any of his endeavors, as composer, as pianist, as conductor, as teacher or as activist for human rights, but he tried his best to Renaissance man to achieve all that time allotted him.

Dec. 17 2010 08:25 PM

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