Born August 25, 1918 in Lawrence, Massachusetts
Died October 14, 1990 in New York, New York
Candide, On the Town, and West Side Story
Bernstein began studying piano when he was ten years old. He graduated from Harvard and then from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied piano, conducting, and composition. When he was still a very young man, he was assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. The regular conductor, Bruno Walter, was ill one evening and Bernstein took his place in a nationally televised concert. He did such an outstanding job that he became famous, and many orchestras wanted to hire him.
He was the regular conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1958 through 1969. Just two weeks after he started his job with the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein conducted his first Young People’s Concert. Throughout his career he believed playing for young students was one of the most important things he could do. Andrew Litton, the former conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, attended some of these concerts when he was a child growing up in New York. These experiences inspired him to become a conductor and to make education an important part of his work with the Dallas Symphony.
Bernstein also composed classical music, Broadway music, and jazz. He has been called “the first American composer to receive world-wide recognition.”