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.

August 25, 1918

Born in Lawrence, MA with the given name Louis Leonard

 

Read more

1931

Becomes bar mitzvah at Congregation Mishkan Tefila

 

Read more

1932

Bernstein makes his first public piano performance in a New England Conservatory recital for students of Susan Williams. He studied with Susan Williams from 1930 to 1932 and paid $3/hour.

Read more

Spring 1932

Bernstein sets foot in Symphony Hall for the first time to attend a Boston Pops concert with his father. The program features Arthur Fiedler conducting several works including Ravel’s Bolero and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

Read more

1933

Bernstein purchases a BSO subscription and begins attending concerts regularly.

Read more

Spring 1935

Graduates Boston Latin School. Composes class song, ‘All for One and One for All’.

 

Read more

Summer 1937

Bernstein takes a summer job as music counselor at Camp Onota in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Read more

1939

First formal appearance as a conductor, leading his own incidental music to a student production of The Birds, at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University.

Read more

1939

Graduates Harvard University, cum laude

Attends Curtis Institute, Fall 1939

Read more

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.

Read More

Read more

Summer 1940

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

Read more

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.
 

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

May 3, 1941

Graduates from Curtis Institute

 

Read more

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.

Read more

July 11, 1941

Bernstein makes his debut performance with a professional orchestra, conducting the Boston Pops at the Hatch Shell on Boston’s Esplanade before an audience of 22,000 people. After entering a music quiz organized by the Boston Herald, he was awarded an extra prize – the opportunity to conduct the Boston Pops in a performance of Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

Read more

Summer 1942

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

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

View program pages

Read more

May 7, 1944


Bernstein appears as a guest artist with the Boston Pops. The program includes a performance of Ravel’s Piano Concerto with Bernstein as piano soloist and Louis Speyer conducting.

Read more

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

Read more

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.


Read More

Read more

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.

Read more

July 6, 1947


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

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

 

Read more

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.


 
View program pages

Read more

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.

Read more

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.


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

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

View program pages and review

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

View more content

Read more

Summer 1951-1960


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

View photo gallery

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

September 10, 1951

Marriage to Felicia Cohn Montealegre in Boston

 

Read more

1952

Birth of first daughter, Jamie Anne Maria

 

Read more

June 12, 1952

World premiere of Bernstein’s opera Trouble in Tahiti at Brandeis’ first Creative Arts Festival in Waltham, MA. Several BSO members participate in the Festival.

Read more

August 8, 1952

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

Read more

August 9, 1952

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

Read more

September 12, 1954


World premiere of Bernstein’s Serenade at the Venice Festival. Bernstein conducts the Teatro La Fenice Orchestra with Isaac Stern as the violin soloist.

Read more

1955

Birth of son, Alexander Serge Leonard

 

Read more

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.

View score and concert review

Read more

August 5, 1955


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

Read more

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.

Read more

1961


Bernstein appoints a young Seiji Ozawa to serve as an assistant conductor at the New York Philharmonic for the 1961-1962 Season. Ozawa is also invited to accompany the New York Philharmonic on their Spring 1961 tour to Japan.

Read more

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.

Read more

1962

Birth of second daughter, Nina Maria Felicia

Read more

December 10, 1963

World premiere of Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3, ‘Kaddish’ by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv, by permission of the BSO.

Read more

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 Koussevitsky Music Foundation in conjunction with the BSO’s 75th anniversary. Listen below to an excerpt from the February 1st performance.


 
View photos and program notes

Read more

June 8, 1964


Bernstein shares conducting duties with Arthur Fiedler at Harvard Night at the Pops in conjunction with the 25th Harvard Reunion of Bernstein’s Class of 1939.

Below is an excerpt of Bernstein making opening remarks.

Click ‘Read More’ to hear Bernstein conducting Rossini’s Overture to the Barber of Seville.

Read more

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.

Click ‘Read More’ to view the program.

Read more

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.

View concert program and photos

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Click ‘Read More’ to view the program.

Read more

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.

 

View photo and speech pages

Read more

July 5, 1970


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

Read more

July 22, 1972

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

Read more

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.

Read more

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”.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Click ‘Read More’ to view photos, score, and program pages.

Read More

Read more

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.

View program pages

 

Read more

June 1985


John Williams and the Boston Pops record works by Leonard Bernstein for a recording released in 1986 on the Philips label titled Bernstein by Boston.

Read more

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.

View program pages

Read more

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.

View program pages

Read more

June 6, 1989


Bernstein conducts the Boston Pops as part of Harvard Night at Symphony Hall in honor of his 50th Class Reunion. Listen below to the third movement of Bernstein’s Divertimento, March – The BSO Forever.

Click ‘Read More’ to see the concert program.

 

Read more

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.

 

Read more

August 19, 1990

Bernstein conducts the BSO at Tanglewood in his last concert.

View photos and program

Read more

October 14, 1990

Leonard Bernstein dies at age 72

 

Read more