Audience versions of this page: FamilyOn August 25, 1918, Louis Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Louis changed his name to Leonard when he was a teenager, just a few years before he led the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in a groundbreaking debut. Leonard Bernstein would become one of the most important American musicians of the 20th century.Bernstein was a pianist, conductor, and composer. He had wildly diverse interests. As a pianist and conductor, he conducted orchestras from Tel Aviv, Israel; to Prague, Czech Republic; to Mexico City, Mexico; to Sapporo, Japan; as well as throughout the United States and Europe. With the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein also toured the world, including the Soviet Union (where he was congratulated by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich after a performance of one of Shostakovich’s symphonies). He is perhaps most noted for his interpretation of the music of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, which he memorably performed with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.As a composer, Bernstein drew on his vast knowledge of classical tradition and contemporary innovation to write symphonies, concertos, and music for ballet (Fancy Free), films (On the Waterfront) and opera (Candide). Bernstein’s most famous contributions, however, are probably his music for landmark American musicals such as On the Town and, of course, West Side Story.Bernstein was also a gifted teacher. His “Young People’s Concerts” television series was broadcast in 40 countries, and introduced generations of young people to classical music. In both the series and his popular lectures, Bernstein was smart, engaging, diplomatic, and never condescended to his audience—whether they were grade-schoolers or Ivy League graduates.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry ballet Noun
type of formal dance with detailed, precise movements.
to transmit signals, especially for radio or television media.
classical music Noun
formal Western European style of music, prolific in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.
a person who writes music.
piece of music written for an orchestra and one or more soloists.
to behave as though one is talking to or interacting with a person of lesser position.
leader of an orchestra or chorus.
to express happiness to a person on a certain occasion or achievement.
to join or link.
having to do with the present time period.
resource donated to a cause.
to appear for the first time in public.
skillful and respectful in dealing with people or communities.
varied or having many different types.
charming and interesting.
style of music or art based on peasant or traditional culture.
group in a species made up of members that are roughly the same age.
innovative or pioneering.
way of understanding an event or set of facts.
Ivy League Noun
group of prestigious colleges and universities in the northeastern United States: Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown.
American musical style with many variations, often featuring strong rhythms and difficult solos.
having to do with the religion or culture of people tracing their ancestry to the ancient Middle East and the spiritual leaders Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
significant event or achievement.
speech delivered in front of a class or audience, usually to instruct or impart knowledge.
comic or dramatic play in which all roles are sung.
path of one object around a more massive object.
large group of musicians. Strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion are parts of an orchestra.
someone who plays the piano.
percussion instrument played by striking a keyboard, which triggers a hammer to hit a string tuned to a specific note.
rock ‘n’ roll Noun
style of popular music blending elements of blues and country-western.
Soviet Union Noun
(1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.
to travel from place to place.
beliefs, customs, and cultural characteristics handed down from one generation to the next.
huge and spread out.