My earliest summer memories as a Tanglewood lawn-rat in the ‘80s are laced with concerts, barbeques, and Leonard Bernstein sightings. The most vivid hero of my childhood, Bernstein had a mythic, God-like quality for my family; he could literally do no wrong. My own grandmother was fond of the following joke:
Elderly concert-goer 1: That Bernstein, he writes, he conducts.
Elderly concert-goer 2: Well, you know, he’s a bisexual
Elderly concert-goer 1: Is there anything that man can’t do?
Leonard Bernstein was a man of supreme charisma and fantastic talent. A conductor, composer and educator, Bernstein was an undying advocate for composers, new works, new ideas, and the concept of music as a living art in the modern world. For all of these reasons, Bernstein seems a sort of spiritual antecedent to Q2.
Therefore, in honor of what would have been Bernstein’s 92nd birthday, I am devoting Wednesday’s Nadia Sirota on Q2 to Lenny. I am particularly pumped to play excerpts from his fairytale 1943 debut concert with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 25, a last-minute substitute for a flu-stricken Bruno Walter. In addition, I'll feature recordings of Bernstein’s interpretation of Ives’ Symphony No. 2 (premiered a mere 50 years after its completion), many of his lesser-known early compositions and of course some colossal hits.
I hope you can join me in celebration of New Music's 20th-century hero!
PS -- For more Lenny-related goodness, check out WNYC's 13-day Our Lenny festival from a couple years ago!