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Leonard Bernstein

American Composer

Early Life
Born Louis Bernstein
- August 25th, 1918 in Lawrence, MA
Grandmother insisted he be named
Louis, though his parents called him
Leonard. He officially changed his name
after his grandmothers death in 1933.
Son of Jennie and Samuel Joseph
Bernstein. Neither parent was musical.
Became interested in music at a young
age. Learned piano simply because his
cousin had an underused piano.
Parents were not always supportive of
his interest, but allowed him to pursue
his love.

Bernstein graduated Boston Latin in 1935.
Attended Harvard University and graduated Cum Laude
in 1939
Thesis written in 1939 on The Absorption of Race
Elements into American Music
Accompanied the Harvard Glee Club
Met Aaron Copland after a performance. The two would
go on to be great friends and Bernstein would refer to
Copland as his only real composition teacher
Following graduation Bernstein enrolled at Curtis
Institute of Music in Philadelphia

Early Career
After completing his education, Bernstein moved to New
He worked as a transcriber and arranger for a music
publishing company under the alias Lenny Amber.
Studied conducting at BSOs Tanglewood
In 1943, Bernstein was appointed assistant conductor for
the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Served as the Music Director for the New York Symphony
Orchestra from 1945-1947
By 1951, Bernstein became the head of the orchestral
and conducting departments of Tanglewood in

Bernstein made his debut as a composer with
Fancy Free - a ballet choreographed by his
frequent colleague Jerome Robbins. This piece
was later turned into the musical On the Town,
which premiered on Broadway in 1944.
In 1956, He penned the score to Candide, an
operetta based on the Voltaire novel with the
same title.
Bernstein would go on to compose a Mass
entitled Mass: a theatre piece for Singers,
Players, and Dancers in the 70s.

West Side Story

Probably his most famous
work, Bernstein composed
the score to West Side
Story. A musical based on
Shakespeares Romeo and

Bernstein, Arthur Laurents,

and Jerome Robbins began
working on the project in
After several years, the trio
brought lyricist Stephen
Sondheim in and the show
finally premiered on
broadway in 1957.

Personal Life
Bernstein married actress Felicia Cohn
Montealegre in September of 1951.
It was said that he married Montealegre to
squash any rumors about his sexual
orientation, and assist him in landing major
conducting positions.
In her memoir published in 2013, Montealegre
admits to Bernsteins bisexuality and the toll it
took on their marriage.
The pair had three children Jamie, Alexandre,
and Nina.

Later Life
Following his major compositions, Bernstein spent
the majority of his musical career with a baton in
his hand, serving as head conductor for the New
York Philharmonic until the mid 1970s.
Even after stepping down, he would continue to
appear with them until his death. Additionally,
Bernstein would conduct with the Vienna
Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the
Isreal Philharmonic, and the Boston Symphony
Leonard Lenny Bernstein died on October 14th,
1990 in New York. He is buried in the Green-Wood
Cemetery in Brooklyn, next to his wife.

Mass: A Theatre piece for

singers, players and dancers
Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei
Tempo: Allegretto
Melody: Disjunct - lots of large interval jumps
Rhythm: Begins in cut time, but experiences many
meter changes
Texture: Homophonic
Dynamics: P-FF
Harmony: A Major
Form: ABA
Genre: Mass