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Leonard Bernstein, social activist, is focus of new exhibit

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In October&1979&, Leonard Bernstein got a fan letter from a high school liberal arts instructor. Helen Morgan composed to the star composer-conductor-pianist in hopes he might share the style that assisted his structures– something she might pass along to her trainees for motivation.

“There are much more than one’main style’within my body of works,” Bernstein composed in reply.”But if I needed to pick one, maybe the most considerable, it would be our look for an option to the 20th century crisis of faith. “

Bernstein’s long-lasting effort to discover that option through music is on moving, and often unexpected, screen at Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History in its brand-new display,”Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music.”

Bernstein delighted millions worldwide with his structures, his theatrical works like”West Side Story “and his excessive carrying out design prior to his death in 1990 at age 72. The focus here is on a lesser-known side of Bernstein: the second-generation American Jew who influenced social development on and off the phase.

” He endured really troubled times: World War II, the Holocaust, the Cold War and the Vietnam period,” stated manager Ivy Weingram.” It was a time of fantastic social turmoil, all which would challenge the numerous elements of his identity.”

His efforts at breaking down racial barriers in casting”On the Town,”and resolving racial stress in “West Side Story “are amongst the stories informed through interactive displays, listening stations and video discussions. On screen are individual products like Bernstein’s piano, carrying out match and baton. The screen goes to Sept. 2.

It’s simply among over 2,500 occasions around the globe commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth.

A couple of highlights:



In May of 1948, 29-year-old Bernstein was on a European performing trip, and was asked to take a side journey from Munich to perform a little orchestra of Holocaust survivors residing in displaced individuals’camp. Asthma avoided him from serving throughout the war therefore performing the group of 17 gamers was his very first conflict with the weight of the Holocaust, Weingram stated. The occasion had a long-lasting influence on him.

“He wept his eyes out throughout the show and after, he composed house about that experience,”she stated. He left behind an incomplete Holocaust opera when he passed away.

Visitors can see a picture of him with the little orchestra, a program from a citation and the performance they provided him. A video discussion reveals a documentary interview with members of the orchestra on how that day impacted them, consisting of violinist David Arben, who later on invested 34 years with the Philadelphia Orchestra.



Fans of the never-ceasing” West Side Story, “the Romeo-and-Juliet tale set amidst Manhattan fire leaves and street gangs in the late 1950s, may be amazed to discover the program was at first called “East Side Story.”It was a tale of Irish and jewish Catholic gang competition set on the New York City’s Lower East Side, on the eve of Passover.

Weingram states Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins later on chose to take a more modern technique to the musical, as Puerto Rican gang violence was making headings in Chicago and New York. An extremely entertaining side-by-side video collection reveals the tradition of “West Side Story.”

An annotated copy of “Romeo and Juliet “is on screen, with notes revealing the production was an “out-and-out plea for racial tolerance.”An early scene overview from”East Side Story” is likewise on view.



Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had actually asked Bernstein to develop an initial piece for the 1971 opening of the Kennedy Center in Washington. He opted to memorialize America’s only Catholic president with exactly what he called a”theater piece for dancers, vocalists and gamers”based upon the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Mass. He worked together with Stephen Schwartz(of “Godspell”and now”Wicked”)on the significant production.

It needs over 200 entertainers, dancers, a kids’s choir, an adult choir, a rock band, a gospel band and establishes a complex discussion in between the celebrant, who is expected to stay unfaltering in his faith, and a street chorus that is continuously attempting to get him to fall apart spiritually.

” Mass “isn’t really extensively carried out, and the display provides Bernstein fans an opportunity to experience the piece through an initial movie.

His child, Nina Bernstein Simmons, stated she hoped audiences take motivation from his life time of work.

“You likewise efficient in sharing your enthusiasms with other humans and making the world a much better location,” she stated.

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