As a music librarian at the Boston Public Library, I get particularly excited about two things—music and Boston history. And I’m not the only one. Since Allen A Brown gifted the BPL his music collection in 1909, there have been music librarians here excited to preserve music materials and share them with the world. Considering this longstanding commitment to Boston music you can see why we are so excited to celebrate the hundredth birthday of the legendary Boston conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein. For those both familiar, and unfamiliar with his work, Bernstein has a wonderful collection of music for everyone to enjoy.
Born August 25, 1918, in Lawrence, MA, Bernstein would become one of America’s first internationally famous conductors. He wrote music for West Side Story, Peter Pan, On the Town, On the Waterfront, and more, and served as the music director at the New York Philharmonic for many years. He was a true visionary.
Bernstein also had plenty of Boston connections, including a lengthy relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In his younger days he attended and eventually became an instructor at the BSO’s summer location, Tanglewood. There he was instructed by another legendary conductor, Serge Koussevitzky, who greatly influenced Bernstein for years to come and helped him become the great conductor we all know and love today. Bernstein’s first television performance as a conductor would also be with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1949 at Carnegie Hall.
To celebrate this long-standing connection, last month the Boston Pops put on a number of wonderful performances highlighting some of Bernstein’s most popular works, and created a website in his honor. The website is a really detailed and fun timeline of his life and I highly recommend you check it out!
After you swing by the site and learn a little bit about the man himself, head down to the bottom of this page where I have made a list of Bernstein’s music available at your friendly neighborhood Boston Public Library location. You won’t regret listening to it!