A Leonard Bernstein: Chronology of a Life in Music
At the helm of the New York Philharmonic
1958 Debuted as Principal Conductor and Music Director-elect of the New York Philharmonic in January; his final concert program for the 1957-58 season was Honegger's melodramatic oratorio Jeannd'Arc au Boucher with Felicia Bernstein as Jeanne d'Arc

Co-conducted 7-week Latin American tour with Dimitri Mitropoulos (Funded by President Eisenhower's Special International Program for Cultural Presentation, each program presented a work by an American composer.)

Opened his first season as Music Director October 2, with opening night called "the most socially important affair of this or any season;" introduced innovations that were educational in nature such as concert programs built around themes, explorations into American music inersperesed with traditional orchestral fare, Preview Concerts in which the conductor gave prefatory talks about the music;

Conducted first of fourteen "Young People's Concerts" which were televised for the first time and soon became a national institution, dubbed in foreign languages and syndicated in forty countries; became nationally recognized as a TV personality; wrote scripts for educational music programs that were subsequently filmed in TV studios in New York and Berlin, at various opera houses and on concert tours and shown on television

Made his Paris public debut as guest conductor and soloist of the Lamoureux Orchestra, followed by concerts with Orchestre Nationale de Paris and the La Scala Orchestra in Milan
1959 Toured Europe and Soviet Union with the New York Philharmonic; met Russian writer and Nobel Prize winner Boris Pasternak who in a rare public appearance attended the final concert

Published his first book, The Joy of Music

Signed long-term contract with Columbia (later CBS) Records
1960 Performed with the Philharmonic at the White House

Conducted second premiere of West Side Story on its Broadway reopening, recorded On the Town on LP with original Broadway cast

Embarked on a 7-week American tour with the Philharmonic

Conducted concerts and taped a TV program with the Philharmonic at the Berlin Festival

Staged Mahler centenary celebration with the Philharmonic, in which Fritz Reiner, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Leopold Stokowski, and Bruno Walter guest conducted
1961 Composed a fanfare and conducted at President Kennedy's pre-inauguration gala fund-raising concertin Washington

Was elected to the Institute of Arts and Letters

Toured Japan with the Philharmonic with Seiji Ozawa as his assistant

West Side Story, the movie, was released
1962 Conducted inaugural concert of Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center September 23, which was hailed as "the most glamorous premiere in the city's history, in a program that included Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Copland's commissioned work Connotations, Ralph Vaughn WIlliams' Serenade to Music and the first movement of Mahler's Eighth Symphony
1963 Introduced the young Andre Watts in a Young People's Concert featuring young soloists

Performed with the Juilliard String Quartet at the Library of Congress , accompanied Benny Goodman in the world premiere of Poulenc's clarinet sonata

Completed his Third Symphony Kaddish which he dedicated to John F. Kennedy upon news of his assasination and conducted a televised memorial performance of Mahler's ResurrectionSymphony

Conducted first performance of Kaddish in Tel Aviv

Kaddish conducted by Charles Munch in four performances with the Boston Symphony, by Bernstein in five performances with the New York Philharmonic, and COlumbia recording released

In collaboration with Franco Zeffirelli, conducted Falstaff at the Metropolitan Opera , considered by historians to be one of the finest productions at the old Met, while on sabbatical from the Philharmonic during which Josef Krips, Lorin Maazel, THomas Schippers and William Steinberg conducted in his absence, with Seiji Ozawa as Assistant Conductor

1965 Received Denmark's prestigious Sonning Prize, conducted the Royal Danish Orchestra in a performance of Nielsen's Symphony No. 3

Composed Chichester Psalms and conducted its premiere in New York; the work was later performed in Chichester, England with Bernsein in the audience

Resumed his post at the Philharmonic, scheduling programs that surveyed twentieth century symphonic music
1966 Made his debut with the Vienna State Opera conducting Falstaff with Luchino Visconti as Director and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in the title role, and soonafter recorded Falstaff with Decca; conducted a week of concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic

Made his conducting debut with the London Symphony in a performance of Mahler's Seventh and Eight Symphonies televised by BBC, returning later in the year to conduct a series of TV programs with the London SYmphony

Published his second book The Infinite Variety of Music
1967 Conducted his first Verdi Requiem at a Philharmonic concert celebrating Toscanini's 100th birthday

Appeared in a CBS TV special Inside Pop - The Rock Revolution

Conducted three special concerts - one on Mount Scopus - marking the reunification of Jerusalem

Co-conducted the Vienna Philharmonic with Karl Bohm at the gala opening of the New York Philharmonic's 125th season, hHis "Young People's Concert" which aired on Christmas Day, A Toast to Vienna in 3/4 Time, seen by 27 million people

Completed Mahler symphony cycle for CBS Records
1968 Conducted Der Rosenkavalier at the Vienna State Opera and a concert performance of Act I of Die Walkure with the New York Philharmonic in New York

Supervised the music for the funeral of Robert F. Kennedy at St. Patrick's Cathedral

Embarked on a five-week concert tour of Western Europe and Israel with the Philharmonic
1969 In the last months of his tenure, conducted Bruckner's Ninth Symphony, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and Verdi's Requiem and an evening of scenes from Tristan und Isolde

Retired as Music Director of the Philharmonic, but named lifetime Laureate Conductor; conducted Mahler's Third Symphony at his farewell concert - 25 years after his Philharmonic debut, 36 world premieres and 800 concerts as Music Director

Conducted Beethoven's Missa Solemnis at the Vienna State Opera's centenary




Front Page

Leonard Bernstein:
the last 10 years

-a look at the book by T.R Seiler

Unbewußt, höchste Lust

- on the recording of Tristan

Heights of Rapture

- a foreword by Hildegard Behrens

Chronology of a
Life in Music:

The not-so-humble beginnings

Big time in the Big Apple

At the helm of the NYPO

The last 20 years


The Composer

The Conductor / Pianist


The Teacher
the Musician in performance
and in rehearsal

by and on Bernstein


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