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.

1933

Bernstein purchases a BSO subscription and begins attending concerts regularly.

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February 18, 1944

Bernstein performs with the BSO in Symphony Hall for the first time, conducting his own Symphony No. 1, ‘Jeremiah’ and Aaron Copland’s El Salón México. This is the BSO’s first performance of one of Bernstein’s works.

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February 12, 1947


Bernstein makes his BSO at Carnegie Hall debut on February 12th during an orchestra trip. From January 28th to February 23rd he conducted 15 concerts, including performances in Boston, Brooklyn, New York, White Plains, New Haven, and Providence.

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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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December 20, 1948

Bernstein rehearses Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 with the BSO in Symphony Hall. The rehearsal is recorded by NBC Radio for their weekly half-hour radio program entitled “Dress Rehearsal.”

Listen below to an audio clip and click ‘Read More’ to view the program.

 

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April 8, 1949

World premiere of Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, ‘Age of Anxiety’ at Symphony Hall conducted by Serge Koussevitzky with Bernstein as piano soloist.

Listen below to an excerpt from Movement 3 – The Seven Stages from the April 9th performance.


 
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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 Koussevitzky conducting the BSO.

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

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December 2, 1949


Bernstein conducts the BSO in the world premiere performance of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie in Symphony Hall. Below is an excerpt from the rehearsal on November 28th with Bernstein speaking and conducting.


 
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December 5, 1949

Bernstein rehearses Ravel’s Piano Concert in G with the BSO in Symphony Hall, with Bernstein conducting from the piano. A portion of the rehearsal is broadcast on NBC Radio as part of its “Dress Rehearsal” series. Listen to the rehearsal audio below.

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December 10, 1949


Bernstein conducts the BSO at Carnegie Hall as part of the First Anniversary Celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The concert is televised and broadcast live.

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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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August 9, 1951

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

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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 9, 1952

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

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April 15, 1955


Charles Munch conducts the BSO in the American premiere performance of Bernstein’s Serenade for solo violin, string orchestra, harp and percussion at Symphony Hall with Isaac Stern as the violin soloist.

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August 5, 1955


Bernstein conducts the BSO in a performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at Tanglewood for the Koussevitzky 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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January 31, 1964


Charles Munch conducts the BSO in the American premiere performance of Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3, ‘Kaddish’ in Symphony Hall. The work was commissioned by the BSO and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in conjunction with the BSO’s 75th anniversary. Listen below to an excerpt from the February 1st performance.

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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 11, 1970


Bernstein returns to conduct the BSO in Symphony Hall for the first time since the spring of 1956. He leads the BSO in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 as part of the BSO’s Beethoven Festival.

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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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December 8, 1972


Bernstein conducts Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with the BSO. The work is recorded later that month for Columbia (Sony) in preparation for Bernstein’s Norton lectures in 1973.

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Fall 1973

Bernstein delivers a series of six lectures at Harvard University as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry.

Here is a video clip of Bernstein conducting members of the BSO and the Harvard Glee Club in a performance of Oedipus Rex during the sixth lecture, “The Poetry of Earth”.

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July 21, 1974

Bernstein conducts the BSO in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 for the Koussevitzky Memorial concert in conjunction with the Koussevitzky Centennial at Tanglewood.

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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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September 25, 1980

Seiji Ozawa conducts the BSO in the world premiere performance of Bernstein’s Divertimento for Orchestra in Symphony Hall. The work was commissioned by the BSO for its 100th anniversary. Bernstein conducts a repeat performance at Tanglewood on July 4, 1981.

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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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July 26, 1986

14-year-old violinist Midori performs Bernstein’s Serenade for Violin and String Orchestra after Plato’s Symposium. The E-strings on two different violins she played broke causing her to swap instruments with BSO violinists during the performance.

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August 11, 1987

Leonard Bernstein conducts the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in a performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in the Shed, August 11, 1987.

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August 15, 1987

Leonard Bernstein conducts the BSO in a performance of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 on August 15, 1987 in the Shed as part of the Tanglewood 50th anniversary.

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August 25, 1988

Tanglewood Gala Concert for Bernstein birthday. Lauren Bacall sings Sondheim’s “The Saga of Lenny” with Paul Ford at the piano and lyrics adapted for “Bernstein at 70!”.

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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 19, 1990

Bernstein conducts the BSO at Tanglewood in his last concert. Watch excerpts from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 below.

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