|COMPOSER, CONDUCTOR, PIANIST (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)|
BORN 25 Aug 1918, Lawrence, Massachusetts - DIED 13 Oct 1990, New York City, New York|
GRAVE LOCATION New York City, New York: Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn (Section G, Lot 43642)
Leonard Bernstein came from a family of Jews that emigrated from the Ukraine to America. He studied piano with Helen Coates and at Harvard with Walter Piston and Edward Burlingaunt Hill. He continued his studies at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia where he studied with Isabella Vengerova, Randall Thompson and Fritz Reiner. He also studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
He supported liberal causes and during the war he was rejected for military service. In 1941 he became assistant to Artur Rodzinski, the conductor of the New York Philharmonic. In 1943 he replaced Bruno Walter and soon found himself famous. His musical "On the Town" was an immediate succes. In 1945 he was appointed conductor of the New York City Symphony. In 1951 he married the Chilean actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn. He did this probably to stop rumours about his relationships with men and they had three children.
In 1953 his "Wonderful Town" was a success on Broadway and in 1956 his operetta "Candide" was controversial. His greatest succes followed in 1957 with the musical "West Side Story", on which he worked with Jerome Robbins. In 1958 he became music director at the New York Philarmonic and in 1960 he started recording all Gustave Mahler's symphonies, supported by Mahler's widow Anna.
From 1970 onwards he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, recording all the symphonies off Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann. He had left Felicia for his lover Tom Cothran, but when she was diagnosed with lung cancer he returned to her and stayed with her until her death in 1978.
His last performance was in 1990 at Tanglewood, where he conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He had a coughing fit during Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. As a haevy smoker he had been suffering from emphysema for decades and he died five days after his final performance.
was pupil to Boulanger, Nadia