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Response to elleng (Reply #2)

Tue Apr 25, 2017, 12:01 PM

3. You're welcome

Last edited Tue Apr 25, 2017, 12:54 PM - Edit history (1)

When I was in graduate school at the Manhattan School of Music, one of my composition teachers was the maestro's music associate and he arranged for me to work with them for about 6 months. It was an awesome and heady experience. He was an incredible genius and his personal life was as rich as his professional work.

In addition to the musical chores he gave me, I was invited to many events each of which were unique in their own way. One performance he gave was with the NY Philharmonic and he conducted the Brahms Third Symphony paired with his own Third Symphony, "The Kaddish," which happens to be my personal favorite of all his music. He conducted the entire program from memory!

Bernstein had a large apartment at the Dakota in NYC and when John Lennon was murdered, the maestro held the wake at his place and that was an evening I'll never forget! The list of celebrities who attended was amazing. Lauren Bacall was there and had just cracked a bone in her foot performing in Kander & Ebb's Broadway show, "Woman of the Year." Earlier, I had met her at Bernstein's birthday bash and she was sitting in the breakfast nook with her foot up on a chair. When she saw me, she called over to me, "Darling, come keep me company and entertain me." Mind-blowing stuff for a 22 year old!

Another time, at his estate in Fairfield, Connecticut, I was invited for dinner, (my parent's lived in nearby Westport). The other guests included Rudolph Nureyev, Franco Zeffirelli and Stephen Sondheim (who I would later represent as a music publisher). We ate dinner on the screen porch sitting with TV trays as we watched "The Naked Civil Servant" which is about the writer/raconteur, Quentin Crisp. Wild!

One example of his brilliance happened some years later. On the occasion of his 70th birthday, the NY Times offered him a space on the Op-Ed page of the Sunday edition. He could have written anything so he wrote a poem! What a multi-talented man.

The one event that bummed me out was a political fund-raiser for Senator Ted Kennedy who was challenging President Carter in the 1980 Democratic primary. Given Bernstein's long relationship with the Kennedy family, his support wasn't surprising but Kennedy's long-shot challenge harmed the president's reelection and we know how that turned out.

Nonetheless, the opportunity to work for him was tremendous and shaped much of my musical thinking and aesthetics. (Note my sig line!)

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elleng Apr 2017 OP
PJMcK Apr 2017 #1
elleng Apr 2017 #2
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PJMcK Apr 2017 #3
elleng Apr 2017 #4
elleng Apr 2017 #5
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