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August 25

Leonard Bernstein

Bernstein’s Mass: A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers was commissioned for and first played at the opening of the Kennedy Center on September 8, 1971.

Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-127784

1918: Bernstein’s Bold Baton
Leonard Bernstein is born in Lawrence, Massachusetts
You might find it odd that Leonard Bernstein was the first American-born and trained music director of the New York Philharmonic. But historically speaking, he was also the first American classical music conductor to earn worldwide acclaim.

Bernstein, who was awarded Kennedy Center Honors in 1980, was applauded for his ability to convey all the facets of a composer’s music and its meaning when he was conducting—or when he was teaching at his Young People’s Concerts. He also wrote orchestral pieces, ballet scores, choral and chamber music, the score for the film On the Waterfront; and of course, the music for Broadway’s Candide and West Side Story.

Held in extremely high regard by musical colleagues, Bernstein’s passion and intensity for conducting, writing, and playing music never ebbed over his lengthy career.
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