Leonard Bernstein: Behind the Music

Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music is the “first large-scale museum exhibition to illustrate Bernstein’s life, Jewish identity, and social activism,” according to the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, where you can catch it until Sept. 2. (A national tour will follow.) There are artifacts ranging from Bernstein’s piano (“No one ever called a Steinway a STEEN-way!”), an annotated copy of Romeo and Juliet in which he formulated ideas for West Side Story, the mezuzah from his studio, the ketubah from his marriage to Costa Rican actress Felicia Cohn Montealegre, and his family Haggadah … which, unsurprisingly, contains additional sheet music. There are dozens of photos, hand-drawn set designs, snippets of costume fabric, personal letters, album covers, and illustrations. There’s the earliest known photograph of teen Lenny conducting; his trademark impressive swoop-y matinee-idol hair is already evident as he theatrically leads a Jewish summer-camp orchestra of seven nebbish-y boys with triangles and tiny cymbals. (The photo is grandiloquently labeled “Onota Rhythm Band and Leonard Bernstein, 1937.”)

Celebrations of Bernstein’s 100th birthday are taking place all around the world, including performances of his greatest work: West Side Story in South Africa, Candide in San Francisco and Los Angeles; Fancy Free in Tuscaloosa; and six different operas and theatrical works this summer at Tanglewood, where Bernstein began his career. There’s also a traveling exhibit by the Grammy Museum and, of course, a hashtag campaign (#BernsteinAt100). Philadelphia, where Bernstein attended the Curtis Institute of Music, naturally wanted in on the action. “Around three-and-a-half years ago, we started to think about how we’d make our mark exploring Bernstein’s life in a way that hadn’t been done,” curator Ivy Weingram told me in an interview. “We started thinking about his search for a solution to ‘the 20th-century crisis of faith,’ which was a phrase he used in a letter to a teacher in 1979.” (The typed letter—with edits and cross-outs by Bernstein, clearly indicating that he’d labored over it—is in the NMAJH show.)

via Leonard Bernstein: Behind the Music

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Please send me, as a comment to this page, any old material you have for inclusion in The Daily Joke Alert - to help enable us all to have our fancy tickled regularly! Never mind the state it's in as I tidy everything up prior to publication. Don't let good material go to waste - and so much does. In the interests of the environment we should always try to re-cycle everything, especially jokes. You know that makes sense! You may find some historical stuff here, but this does not really matter as humor is fairly timeless.

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