The Music's Over

but the songs live on

Died On This Date (October 14, 1990) Leonard Bernstein

Posted by on October 14, 2009

Leonard Bernstein
August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990

With his sister Shirley following a performance, March 1951.

With his sister Shirley following a performance, March 1951.

Leonard Bernstein was one of the world’s most respected composers and one of the first American conductors to achieve worldwide acclaim.  Born in Massachusetts, Bernstein took to music at an early age and began learning the piano.  After graduating from high school, he attended Harvard where he became a member of the storied Harvard Glee Club.  By November of 1943, Bernstein was conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra where he stayed until 1969.  He was one of the first conductors to make numerous television appearances.  In 1957, his most famous piece of work as a composer debuted on Broadway.  It was West Side Story.  Over the course of his career, he wrote many pieces including five musicals, three symphonies and two operas.   On Christmas Day, 1989, Bernstein made history by conducting Beethoven’s Symphony #9 in East Berlin with an orchestra made up of musicians from both sides of the Berlin Wall.  It was part of the celebration commemorating the fall of the Wall.   With his health ailing in part due to years of heavy smoking, Bernstein made his final performance in August of 1990 and retired all together on October 9th of that same year.  He died of pneumonia five days later.

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