Sam Bernstein described his son, Leonard, as “my gift to Uncle Sam…how could I know my son was going to grow up to be Leonard Bernstein!”
On this the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth it is time to reflect on what he has meant to the world, let alone Uncle Sam. His importance to musical culture cannot be underestimated. He was composer, conductor, inspirational teacher, lyricist, motivator, soloist and many, many more disciplines besides. He rubbed shoulders with presidents, prime ministers, emperors, kings, queens and above all with normal people like you and me.
As a composer he was no giant like Beethoven or Schubert or even Gershwin but he did compose West Side Story, a giant of a musical. Anything he composed after that did not measure up, which is when his conducting skills came to the fore. His demise as a composer coincided with his appointment as musical director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1958. He was an egotist. In his eyes, the rewards were as much about glory and adulation as it was about money. In his younger days, he loved being the centre of attention and always made a beeline for the piano at parties. If there was no piano he either sulked or left. Continue reading THE LEONARD BERNSTEIN STORY IN BRIEF→
Bill Murray opened his Sydney Opera House show by reading from the last interview Ernest Hemingway granted. “Hemingway: I used to play cello. My mother kept me out of school a whole year to study music and counterpoint. She thought I had ability, but I was absolutely without talent.”
Murray could well be warning us that he is without talent as a singer but that he believes in himself, or perhaps his mother believed in him, and he enjoys singing, and his acting skills allow him to convey the story and emotions of the songs he chooses. He is accompanied by an exquisite world class, classical trio which would be a joy to listen to on their own but they are absolutely enthralling as they blend with Murray’s performance. The trio is made up of cellist Jan Vogler, violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez. They have performed as soloists for world renowned orchestras, including The New York Philharmonic, Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Bill Murray recites, reads, sings, and dances his way through a variety of works. After opening with George Plimpton’s interview from The Paris Review with Ernest Hemingway he read an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road: “Let us go! whoever you are come travel with me! Travelling with me you find what never tires.” This was followed by nature lover James Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer, fittingly coupled with the music of another nature lover, Franz Schubert. Continue reading BILL MURRAY, JAN VOGLER & FRIENDS : NEW WORLDS→
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