Celebrating
100 Years of Bernstein

Celebrating the centennial of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein's birth. Bernstein's close relationship with the BSO spanned a half-century, from the time he became a protégé of legendary BSO conductor Serge Koussevitzky until the final concerts he conducted with the BSO in 1990.

Summer 1940

Bernstein attends the Tanglewood Music Center (then called the Berkshire Music Center) during its inaugural year and studies conducting with BSO Music Director Serge Koussevitzky.


Click ‘Read More’ to see photos, TMC Yearbook pages, and four programs including works Bernstein conducted.

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Summer 1940

In the video excerpt below, Bernstein recalls his first summer as a student at Tanglewood in a 1988 interview:

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July 26, 1940


Bernstein conducts the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in a performance of the second and fourth movements of Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Scheherazade. This is the first concert he conducted as a TMC student for which there is a sound recording.
 

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August 1940


Leonard Bernstein conducts members of the TMC in a surprise performance of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat, complete with words made up by Bernstein for the occasion, at Seranak during a tea given by Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky for the students at Seranak, their summer home near Tanglewood.

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August 16, 1940


Bernstein and student conductors Lukas Foss, Thor Johnson, and Richard Bales participate in the British War Relief Concert, a precursor to Tanglewood on Parade.

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Summer 1941

Bernstein conducts several works with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra as a TMC Fellow including William Schuman’s American Festival Overture, Constant Lambert’s The Rio Grande, Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2, and Gardner Read’s Prelude and Toccata. Click ‘Read more’ to view the programs.

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Summer 1942

Bernstein returns to Tanglewood and is appointed Koussevitsky’s conducting assistant.

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August 14, 1942

Serge Koussevitsky conducts the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in the American premiere performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, ‘Leningrad’ in which Bernstein plays the bass drum.

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1943-1945

The Tanglewood Festival and Tanglewood Music Center are suspended from 1943 to 1945 due to the war.

The Koussevitzky Music Foundation puts on concerts in the Lenox area, including a series of concerts at Sedgewick Hall in the Lenox Library.

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August 24, 1943


Bernstein performs the premiere of his work I Hate Music with Jennie Tourel as vocal soloist at Sedgewick Hall in the Lenox Library.

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Summer 1946-1950


Bernstein returns to Tanglewood in 1946 to serve as Koussevitzky’s assistant at the Tanglewood Music Center following the center’s closure from 1943 to 1945 due to the war. Bernstein served as his assistant in 1942, and continued in this position from 1946 to 1950.

View Bernstein photos, 1946-1950

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August 6, 1946

Bernstein conducts the American premiere of Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes in the Theatre-Concert Hall in a production featuring the TMC Opera Department and the TMC Opera orchestra. This was his first time conducting the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra as a TMC faculty member.

Click ‘Read More’ to view program, photo, and review.


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July 6, 1947


Bernstein performs music from his ballet, Facsimile, on piano as part of a Composers’ Forum at Tanglewood.

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July 27, 1947


Bernstein conducts the BSO at Tanglewood for the first time, performing Mozart’s Overture to The Magic Flute, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9.

Click ‘Read More’ to view the program and the concert program bio for Bernstein.

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Summer 1948

Bernstein arrives at Tanglewood for a Sunday afternoon concert. This home movie was made by Lenny’s younger brother, Burton Bernstein, circa 1948.

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August 12, 1949

Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, ‘Age of Anxiety’ is repeated at Tanglewood with Bernstein as piano soloist and Serge Koussevitsky conducting the BSO. This is the first time Bernstein appeared with the BSO at Tanglewood as a piano soloist.

Click ‘Read More’ to see the full Tanglewood on Parade program.

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July 30, 1950

Bernstein conducts the BSO in a performance of Lukas Foss’ Song of Songs: Second Biblical Solo Cantata for soprano and orchestra in the Tanglewood Music Shed. Click ‘Read more’ to see the concert program.

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August 6, 1950


Bernstein appears as both conductor and piano soloist in a performance of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G with the BSO. This is his first appearance at Tanglewood conducting from the piano.

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June 1951

Following the death of his teacher and mentor Serge Koussevitzky on June 4, 1951, Leonard Bernstein takes on the post of Head of Orchestral Conducting at the Tanglewood Music Center.

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Summer 1951-1960


Bernstein is the Head of Orchestral Conducting at the Tanglewood Music Center.

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August 9, 1951

Bernstein conducts the BSO in a performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in memory of Serge Koussevitzky in the Music Shed.

Click ‘Read More’ to view the program and a concert review.

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August 10, 1951



Bernstein performs as piano soloist and conductor in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the BSO as part of Tanglewood on Parade.

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August 8, 1952

A revision of Bernstein’s opera Trouble in Tahiti is performed by the Tanglewood Music Center Opera Department.

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August 9, 1952

Bernstein conducts the BSO in the Koussevitzky Memorial concert at Tanglewood.

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August 5, 1955


Bernstein conducts the BSO in a performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at Tanglewood for the Koussevitsky Memorial Concert.

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August 11, 1955

Bernstein conducts the world premiere of his Symphonic Suite from “On the Waterfront” with the BSO as part of Tanglewood on Parade. This is also the first time Bernstein performed as a pianist with the Boston Pops, performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

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August 12, 1961


Bernstein conducts the Koussevitzky Memorial concert at Tanglewood. The program includes Harold Shapero’s Symphony for Classical Orchestra, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.

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August 16, 1964


Bernstein attends Seiji Ozawa’s conducting debut with the BSO at Tanglewood where Ozawa conducts Bizet’s Symphony in C, Hindemith’s ‘Mathis der Maler’ Symphony, and Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

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August 11, 1965


Bernstein returns to Tanglewood to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Tanglewood Music Center. He conducts the final act of Carmen in concert form, leading a vocal cast made up of TMC alumni.

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April 10, 1970


Bernstein is named Artistic Advisor at Tanglewood along with Seiji Ozawa and Gunther Schuller. Starting in 1970, responsibilities for Tanglewood were divided between a newly formed “Troika”: Schuller was put in charge of all educational activities, Ozawa was in charge of the Festival programs, and Bernstein served as a general advisor.

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June 28, 1970

Bernstein gives The Principle of Hope speech at the Opening Exercises of the Tanglewood Music Center. Listen to the full speech below.

 

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July 5, 1970


Bernstein conducts the BSO in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, ‘Resurrection’ in the Koussevitzky Music Shed.

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July 22, 1972

Bernstein conducts the BSO in a performance of Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in the Tanglewood Music Shed.

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July 24, 1976

Bernstein records Liszt’s Faust Symphony with the BSO at Symphony Hall. Audio and video recordings were made simultaneously, with audio released by Deutsche Grammophon and video released by Amberson Video, Inc.

Watch a second clip and see the concert program by clicking on the Read More button.

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July 29, 1979

Bernstein conducts the BSO in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 at Tanglewood, his only performance of this work with the BSO.

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July 4, 1981

Bernstein conducts the BSO at Tanglewood in the American premiere of his work Ḥalil with Doriot Anthony Dwyer as flute soloist. The concert also includes a performance of Bernstein’s Divertimento for Orchestra.

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August 25, 1988

Tanglewood Gala Concert for Bernstein’s 70th Birthday. Below is an excerpt of Bernstein’s children, Jamie, Nina, and Alexander, performing The Seven-Oh Stomp.

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August 28, 1988

Bernstein conducts the BSO in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 at Tanglewood’s annual Serge and Olga Koussevitzky Memorial concert.

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August 14, 1990

Bernstein conducts the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra for the last time in a performance of Copland’s Symphony No. 3.

Listen below to an audio excerpt.

 

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August 19, 1990

Bernstein conducts the BSO at Tanglewood in his last concert.

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