Leonard Bernstein: A Life

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A.A. Knopf, 1994 - Biography & Autobiography - 471 pages
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, hismusic, the great international cultural world in which he traveled, are richly and vividly portrayed in this magnificent biography, alive with music -- and with life.

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User Review  - Kirkus

Another big Lenny B. bio, jam-packed with accomplishment and angst. This is not a terrible book, and there are occasional passages of nice insight. Ultimately, however, the limitations that biographer ... Read full review

Leonard Bernstein: a life

User Review  - Not Available - 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 ... Read full review


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About the author (1994)

Meryle Secrest was born and educated in Bath, England. She has written biographies of Romaine Brooks, Bernard Berenson, Kenneth Clark, Salvador Dali, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Meryle Secrest lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband, the composer Thomas Beveridge.

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