Leonard Bernstein

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Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein is widely known not only as one of the greatest American conductors, but also as a composer whose creativity and passion was spread over a wide range. His social and cultural influences helped shape his career into a musical icon and his music rekindled the American spirit. Above all, he will be remembered as one of the most amazing and influential musical personalities of the twentieth century.

In the following paper I will be exploring the beginning of Leonard Bernstein's career and his family background. I will also look into the influences he had in his life and look at two pieces that he composed, "Jeremiah Symphony No. 1", and "Candide". My reasons for choosing these two pieces is due to the fact that they are contrasting in genre, one being a symphony with orchestration and the other being an operetta, and that they were written at different stages in Bernstein's life. They both produced a number of responses and displayed his wide range of musical ability.

Leonard Bernstein was born on August 25, 1918 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. Leonard's father, Samuel immigrated to America in 1908 at the age of sixteen from the Russian province of Volhynia where he came from a long line of rabbis. (Gradenwitz 1987: 20)

Samuel worked for his uncle in a barber's shop and quickly picked up the trade. He soon found himself accepting a job in Boston and starting his own company called the Samuel Bernstein Hair Company. Soon after he married Jennie Resnick in 1917, also of Jewish descent. She had lived in America since the age of seven and her family lived in Lawrence. The couple moved back to Boston after marriage but soon returned to Lawrence i...

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