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Leonard Bernstein

In this season of his 80th birthday, Leonard Bernstein still looms large over the American musical landscape. There has not been, since the day of his death eight years ago, a break in the steady stream of reissues of his recordings. Biographies and remembrances, too, keep coming. On Oct. 28, PBS will air a new "American Masters" documentary on him. But his aura can't last forever; his memory will eventually fade unless his music survives.
December 3, 1997
Ada Leonard Bernstein, 82, who led an all-woman orchestra. She first appeared on stage at the age of 2, singing in her father's stage act. At 11, she replaced an ailing ingenue in a musical show. In 1941, she formed an all-woman band that performed for USO shows during World War II and had a Hollywood contract with RKO Studios. Ada Leonard and her band also appeared regularly on KTTV television.
June 29, 1997
Re "It's Not a Reunion" (by Mary McNamara, June 22): I am a PhD candidate at UCLA in historical musicology currently writing my dissertation on Leonard Bernstein. I am also a frequent substitute radio host at KUSC, as well as music writer for the Los Angeles Downtown News. I am as pretentious and stuffy as you can get, and soon I'll have more degrees than a thermometer to prove it. But my finest, my most meaningful professional hour came when, in 1983, while working as a cheesy commissioned guitar hawker at the Guitar Center, Hollywood, I sold Motley Crue FOUR Ampeg 100-watt SVT amp heads!
October 6, 1996 | Mark Swed, Mark Swed is The Times' music critic
Like a lot of people, I was drawn to New York, where I lived in the late '80s and early '90s, in part because of Leonard Bernstein. I didn't move there with any illusions that Bernstein would be contributing much to the life of the city any more; his presence was still felt locally, but the world had become his arena.
Oh, "Candide." Poor "Candide." In the beginning there was Gordon Davidson's brave, clever and sprightly little production for the Theater Group--it wasn't the Center Theater Group yet--at UCLA in 1966. Here, the lumbering Broadway musical, which had flopped a decade earlier, emerged perfectly focused, perfectly wicked and witty. Bernstein's music bubbled and bristled, as needed.
November 5, 1995 | Mark Swed, Mark Swed is a frequent contributor to Calendar
At the end of 1989, Leonard Bernstein conducted one of his most exultant concerts in a lifetime of exultant music making. It was a gala concert performance in London of his "Candide," offered with a cast of some of our most celebrated opera stars, young and old. It was an evening of great emotion, the first (and only) time in his life that Bernstein had conducted what many feel is his best score (popular or serious); it was also the first time all the music to the show had, at last, been heard.
January 1, 1995 | James Hamilton-Paterson, James Hamilton-Paterson's last book, "Gerontius" (Soho), a novel about the composer Sir Edward Elgar, won the Whitbread Award for Fiction. His newest novel, "Ghosts of Manila," was published last month by Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Leonard Bernstein was fabulous. His story, though, reads less like a fable than a parable exemplifying what the historian Noel Annan once described as the "American syndrome" in which "to succeed, painters and writers (had) to become celebrities and celebrity destroyed them as artists." Plenty of informed people, including those who attended Bernstein's last Tanglewood concert just before his death in 1990, would forcefully deny that he had ever been destroyed as an artist.
September 4, 1994
Martin Bernheimer seems to find Leonard Bernstein's close-to-40-year romance with communism sort of, well . . . cute ("Lenny the Red Menace," Aug. 21). He writes, of Bernstein: "A possible Commie. Yikes." Communism a laugh ? Who knew? But let's get serious here. Forget 73 years of murdering, enslaving, ignoring human rights, even threatening to "bury" us, and cut to what Bernheimer believes is the real horror: that under the direction of four decades of attorneys general, the FBI was ordered to keep track of Bernstein's activities.
September 4, 1994 | Mark Swed, Mark Swed is a free-lance writer based in New York
Everything about the performance seemed natural, confident, vibrant, at the British premiere of John Adams' Violin Concerto recently given by the London Symphony Orchestra. Of course, there were backstage tensions. The composer, himself a conductor, later confessed that the desire to conduct his own music has become so strong that he had to hold his arm down like Dr. Strangelove.
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