Leonard Bernstein: a life
The most insightful and engrossing work we have had from the widely admired biographer of Frank Lloyd Wright ("Captivating ... The reader comes away with an understanding of Wright as a man as well as an architect" -- Washington Post Book World ... "Spellbinding" -- Boston Globe), of Bernard Berenson ("Authoritative and fascinating" -- Philip Toynbee, The Observer ... "A memorable opus" -- Sir Harold Acton), and of Kenneth Clark ("Splendid, enthralling" -- Wall Street Journal). Here is Leonard Bernstein, full scale and fully alive -- the child prodigy, the man, the composer, the teacher, the hugely charismatic personality, the lover, the American folk hero. Everything is here: the child growing up in a Hasidic family in Massachusetts, his father a rabbi's son; his first piano at age nine ("I remember touching it ... It was my contact with life, with God"); his reluctant, brilliant, argumentative years at Harvard; the rocky but exhilarating start of his career (scant jobs, no money, but friendships with Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Judy Holliday, Comden and Green, et al.); his spectacular debut (understudy into a star!) as substitute conductor at the New York Philharmonic; the great career over the years as a composer in classical music (the Kaddish Symphony, Chichester Psalms, Songfest), and in musical theater (On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide, West Side Story, Mass, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). We see Bernstein: the good father to his three children, the man who adored his wife, Felicia Montealegre, the man who adored men, the brilliant and generous mentor, the temperamental artist, the hypochondriac, the politician, the businessman, the Pied Piper ... His life, his music, the great international cultural world in which he traveled, are richly and vividly portrayed in this magnificent biography, alive with music -- and with life. From the Hardcover edition.
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Leonard Bernstein: a lifeUser Review - Book Verdict
Access to Bernstein's papers was denied Secrest (Frank Lloyd Wright, LJ 9/1/92) and given to Humphrey Burton (Leonard Bernstein, Doubleday, 1994). Thus, this second big Bernstein book of 1994 has a different documentary foundation and draws on a different set of interviews, underscoring the point that Bernstein's legacy demands multiple interpretations. Secrest takes issue with some legends, repeats and supports other details, and allows herself to remain perplexed by remaining mysteries. She applies Karen Horney's description of "demoniacal obsession" to Bernstein's perfectionist need to do it all in music: create, re-create, conduct, teach, and inspire. But her welcome perspective allows him his failures, as he never did himself, and credits him with never losing his enthusiasm, the tempering of obsession that makes achievement possible. Recommended as a companion to Burton's work. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/94.]-Bonnie Jo Dopp, formerly with District of Columbia P.L.
Review: Leonard Bernstein: A LifeUser Review - Goodreads
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Rocking the Cradle 3 8
Wrong Note Rag 5 7
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