American composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein began his long affiliation with New York City and the New York Philharmonic in the early 1940s and would go on to become the orchestra's musical director and laureate conductor. Bernstein wrote works that would be performed from symphony halls to the Broadway stage. The Nonesuch album Leonard Bernstein’s New York salutes the maestro with numbers from Broadway classics like On the Town, West Side Story, and Wonderful Town.
Leonard Bernstein, one of the most widely acclaimed American conductors and composers, was also among the most notable public figures of the 20th century. Born in Massachusetts in 1918, he studied music at Harvard University with Walter Piston, among others, then went on to the Curtis Institute of Music to study conducting with Fritz Reiner and to Tanglewood, where he pursued post-graduate studies with Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitzky. Bernstein later worked as Koussevitzky’s conducting assistant.
Bernstein began his long affiliation with New York City and the New York Philharmonic as assistant conductor in the early 1940s. He would go on to become the orchestra’s music director in 1958 and was given the lifetime title of Laureate Conductor in 1969. Invitations to guest conduct with orchestras the world over were also common from the 1940s on, and Bernstein would later lead the Vienna Philharmonic in a number of recordings in the early 1970s.
As a composer, Bernstein wrote works that would be performed in many venues, from the symphony hall to the opera stage to Broadway theaters and on the silver screen. In 1996, Nonesuch released the album Leonard Bernstein’s New York, on which Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, and Dawn Upshaw, and others, backed by the Orchestra of St. Luke's, salute the maestro with numbers from Broadway classics like On the Town, West Side Story, and Wonderful Town. Entertainment Weekly called it "lovely and sumptuous ... a great romantic's Gotham."
Leonard Bernstein received countless honors throughout his life, from groups like the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Beethoven Society, and the Kennedy Center and a host of national honors from countries around the globe. He died in New York City in 1990 at the age of 72.