Leonard Bernstein was America’s ambassador to the world. He inspired an entire generation with his music ensembles and symphony orchestras, was one of the most influential classical musicians of the last century. An influential teacher, a brilliant conductor, a fine composer, and an accomplished pianist. A universal man, who lived five lives and who exuded passion from every pore.
From the start, Leonard Bernstein was a determinedly colourful character, insistent on the limelight, extravagant of gesture and emotion. A musician of rare talent who wowed his young fans with his flamboyant style and pedagogic flair. His creative gifts knew no boundaries as he moved easily from the podium, to the piano, to television. No other musician succeeded in arresting the attention of entire America as much as Bernstein did with his television shows.
His role as an educator in seminars at Brandeis University and in teaching at Tanglewood had an immediate appeal. He found and fascinated an even larger audience of young listeners on television shows as “Omnibus” and “Young People’s Concerts”.
His appearances as a conductor had great impact and brought about an excitement approaching frenzy due to his energy and emotion. His performances and recordings also ushered in a revival of interest in the music of Gustav Mahler.
His fresh approach of interpreting pieces of music was rooted in his commitment to the composer, to find out what the genuine story of the composition was. Although he was the first American-born conductor to receive worldwide fame and as much as he loved to conduct, he was drawn to composing concurrently.
As a composer Bernstein made skilful use of diverse elements where popular and serious music would blend. He could bridge gaps and break down barriers in an extraordinarily skilful and yet accessible manner. His best-known works are the musicals On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide and West Side Story, written in collaboration with Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins.
Bernstein was a man who owed much to his Jewish heritage but he always struggled with a certain set of beliefs and therefore addressed questions of faith in all of his religious pieces like The Mass or the Chicester Psalms.
The film includes interviews with the children of Leonard Bernstein: Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Kent Nagano, Marin Alsop, Sir Peter Jonas, Christoph Eschenbach, Norman Lebrecht, members of the Vienna Philharmonics, Craig Urquhart and many others.
Czech Crystal Award
2016 Golden Prague
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