Everywhere you look lately, there are celebrations of the centennial of Leonard Bernstein. The legendary musician’s work as a conductor, composer and educator left an extraordinary legacy. He would have celebrated his 100th birthday on August 25, 2018.
You may be thinking: What does Leonard Bernstein have to do with Sunday Baroque?
Well, he helped create and nurture generations of music lovers. He presented music and musical concepts using language and descriptions that anyone could understand, and he shared it with infectious passion and enthusiasm. This elite musician and scholar was anything but elitist when it came to his interest in and ability for breaking down barriers to understanding and enjoying classical music. His Young People’s concerts were televised in the 1950s, long before I was even born, but many Sunday Baroque listeners STILL refer back to those broadcasts as pivotal to their personal love of music.
Leonard Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein, wrote in an essay about her famous father, something that sums it up elegantly and resonates with me deeply:
People often say that Leonard Bernstein was a born teacher, but actually it’s more accurate to say that he was a born student who just couldn’t wait to share what he learned. In his whole life, he never stopped studying.
Happy centennial, maestro! Thank you for opening up the world of great music to so many people. Thank you for inspiring so many by sharing your own curiosity and enthusiasm. And thank you for helping to create so many music lovers in the world.