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The Leonard Bernstein Letters (2013)

by Leonard Bernstein(Favorite Author)
4.38 of 5 Votes: 1
030017909X (ISBN13: 9780300179095)
Yale University Press
review 1: Just wonderful stuff to wallow in for days and days and days, and like many collections of letters, easy for quick, short reads on the run. The footnotes are in themselves among a history of the period, with mini-biographies of all the musicians, conductors, choreographers and managers close to the Maestro. Equally interesting are the intimate letters that illustrate the extraordinary love Bernstein shared with his wife, the actress Felicia who married him, after some years of his tortured indecision over his homosexual past. It came back to bite him in the end, and it broke her heart, but that was after a very long, and seemingly happy family life that produced three children who carry on his tradition via a foundation today.Highly recommended to melomanes and anyone inte... morerested in the cultural life of the late 40-60's, including the McCarthy period and the Kennedy years.
review 2: If you want to understand classical music (and maybe even musical theater) in the 20th century in America, you have to understand Leonard Bernstein, who was classical music's public face for 30 years. He was its champion and indeed without him, it's unlikely that high European culture would have had nearly the influence it did in America during my childhood. All those piano and violin lessons kids took back then (which seem to have been replaced by soccer practices since Bernstein's death) would not have been. There are no Leonard Bernsteins today. The public has lost its love and interest in complex music. For me, this is a sad state of affairs, and reading this book of letters brings to the fore the beauty of what people are missing.Leonard Bernstein was a titan, an irrepressible charismatic figure who lived his life fully in every way. A globetrotter, a composer, a Zionist, a leftist, a musical theater creator, a performer, and, of course, a conductor, it's truly dizzying to read his letters and be confronted with the scope of his achievements, energy and intelligence straight on. He was superhuman in what he accomplished. I am in awe.There is warmth and insight in these letters. Famous and obscure people of the late 20th century come and go through these pages. There are friendships that last decades and some that flame out. There is, not infrequently, a showbiz-I-love-you-man tone in these letters, as well. My one quibble about this collection of letters is that the less than savory and very messy parts of Leonard Bernstein's personal life have been mostly edited out. Leonard Bernstein was a genius, but he wasn't at all a saint. In many ways, he was a flawed and tragic figure and much of that is gently alluded to rather than shown on the page. That all said, this collection is a must read for anyone interested in classical music. less
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Wonderful book, very well done! Would recommend.
780.92 B531L 2013
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