Leonard Bernstein


Leonard Bernstein

(August 25, 1918 - October 14, 1990) Leonard Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He took piano lessons as a boy and attended the Garrison and Boston Latin Schools. At Harvard University, he studied with Walter Piston, Edward Burlingame-Hill, and A. Tillman Merritt, among others. Before graduating in 1939, he made an unofficial conducting debut with his own incidental music to "The Birds," and directed and performed in Marc Blitzstein's "The Cradle Will Rock." Then at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, he studied piano with Isabella Vengerova, conducting with Fritz Reiner, and orchestration with Randall Thompson.

In 1940, he studied at the Boston Symphony Orchestra's newly created summer institute, Tanglewood, with the orchestra's conductor, Serge Koussevitzky. Bernstein later became Koussevitzky's conducting assistant.

Bernstein was appointed to his first permanent conducting post in 1943, as Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. On November 14, 1943, Bernstein substituted on a few hours notice for the ailing Bruno Walter at a Carnegie Hall concert, which was broadcast nationally on radio, receiving critical acclaim. Soon orchestras worldwide sought him out as a guest conductor.

In 1945 he was appointed Music Director of the New York City Symphony Orchestra, a post he held until 1947. After Serge Koussevitzky died in 1951, Bernstein headed the orchestral and conducting departments at Tanglewood, teaching there for many years. In 1951 he married the Chilean actress and pianist, Felicia Montealegre. He was also visiting music professor, and head of the Creative Arts Festivals at Brandeis University in the early 1950s.

Bernstein became Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in 1958. From then until 1969 he led more concerts with the orchestra than any previous conductor. He subsequently held the lifetime title of Laureate Conductor, making frequent guest appearances with the orchestra. More than half of Bernstein's 400-plus recordings were made with the New York Philharmonic.

Bernstein traveled the world as a conductor. Immediately after World War II, in 1946, he conducted in London and at the International Music Festival in Prague. In 1947 he conducted in Tel Aviv, beginning a relationship with Israel that lasted until his death. In 1953, Bernstein was the first American to conduct opera at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan: Cherubini's "Medea" with Maria Callas.

Bernstein was a leading advocate of American composers, particularly Aaron Copland. The two remained close friends for life. As a young pianist, Bernstein performed Copland's "Piano Variations" so often he considered the composition his trademark. Bernstein programmed and recorded nearly all of the Copland orchestral works --many of them twice. He devoted several televised "Young People's Concerts" to Copland, and gave the premiere of Copland's "Connotations," commissioned for the opening of Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center in 1962.

While Bernstein's conducting repertoire encompassed the standard literature, he may be best remembered for his performances and recordings of Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Sibelius and Mahler. Particularly notable were his performances of the Mahler symphonies with the New York Philharmonic in the 1960s, sparking a renewed interest in the works of Mahler.

Inspired by his Jewish heritage, Bernstein completed his first large-scale work: Symphony No. 1: "Jeremiah." (1943). The piece was first performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1944, conducted by the composer, and received the New York Music Critics' Award. Koussevitzky premiered Bernstein's Symphony No. 2: "The Age of Anxiety" with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Bernstein as piano soloist. His Symphony No. 3: "Kaddish," composed in 1963, was premiered by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. "Kaddish" is dedicated "To the Beloved Memory of John F. Kennedy."

Other major compositions by Bernstein include "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs" for solo clarinet and jazz ensemble (1949); "Serenade" for violin, strings and percussion, (1954); "Symphonic Dances from West Side Story," (1960); "Chichester Psalms" for chorus, boy soprano and orchestra (1965); "Mass: A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers," commissioned for the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and first produced there in 1971; "Songfest" a song cycle for six singers and orchestra (1977); "Divertimento," for orchestra (1980); "Halil," for solo flute and small orchestra (1981); "Touches," for solo piano (1981); "Missa Brevis" for singers and percussion (1988); "Thirteen Anniversaries" for solo piano (1988); "Concerto for Orchestra: Jubilee Games," (1989); and "Arias and Barcarolles" for two singers and piano duet (1988).

Bernstein also wrote a one-act opera, "Trouble in Tahiti," in 1952, and its sequel, the three-act opera, "A Quiet Place" in 1983. He collaborated with choreographer Jerome Robbins on three major ballets: "Fancy Free" (1944) and "Facsimile" (1946) for the American Ballet theater; and "Dybbuk" (1975) for the New York City Ballet. He composed the score for the award-winning movie "On the Waterfront" (1954) and incidental music for two Broadway plays: "Peter Pan" (1950) and "The Lark" (1955).

Bernstein contributed substantially to the Broadway musical stage. He collaborated with Betty Comden and Adolph Green on "On The Town" (1944) and "Wonderful Town" (1953). In collaboration with Richard Wilbur and Lillian Hellman and others he wrote "Candide" (1956). Other versions of "Candide" were written in association with Hugh Wheeler, Stephen Sondheim et al. In 1957 he again collaborated with Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents, on the landmark musical "West Side Story," also made into the Academy Award-winning film. In 1976 Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner wrote "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Festivals of Bernstein's music have been produced throughout the world. In 1978 the Israel Philharmonic sponsored a festival commemorating his years of dedication to Israel. The Israel Philharmonic also bestowed on him the lifetime title of Laureate Conductor in 1988. In 1986 the London Symphony Orchestra and the Barbican Centre produced a Bernstein Festival. The London Symphony Orchestra in 1987 named him Honorary President. In 1989 the city of Bonn presented a Beethoven/Bernstein Festival.

In 1985 the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences honored Mr. Bernstein with the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. He won eleven Emmy Awards in his career. His televised concert and lecture series started with the "Omnibus" program in 1954, followed by the extraordinary "Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic," in 1958 that extended over fourteen seasons. Among his many appearances on the PBS series "Great Performances" was the eleven-part acclaimed "Bernstein's Beethoven." In 1989, Bernstein and others commemorated the 1939 invasion of Poland in a worldwide telecast from Warsaw.

Bernstein's writings were published in "the Joy of Music" (1959), "Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts"(1961), "The Infinite Variety of Music" (1966), and "Findings" (1982). Each has been widely translated. He gave six lectures at Harvard University in 1972-1973 as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry. These lectures were subsequently published and televised as "The Unanswered Question."

Bernstein always rejoiced in opportunities to teach young musicians. His master classes at Tanglewood were famous. He was instrumental in founding the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute in 1982. He helped create a world class training orchestra at the Schleswig Holstein Music Festival. He founded the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan. Modeled after Tanglewood, this international festival was the first of its kind in Asia and continues to this day.

Bernstein received many honors. He was elected in 1981 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which gave him a Gold Medal. The National Fellowship Award in 1985 applauded his life-long support of humanitarian causes. He received the MacDowell Colony's Gold Medal; medals from the Beethoven Society and the Mahler Gesellschaft; the Handel Medallion, New York City's highest honor for the arts; a Tony award (1969) for Distinguished Achievement in the Theater; and dozens of honorary degrees and awards from colleges and universities. He was presented ceremonial keys to the cities of Oslo, Vienna, Bersheeva and the village of Bernstein, Austria, among others. National honors came from Italy, Israel, Mexico, Denmark, Germany (the Great Merit Cross), and France (Chevalier, Officer and Commandeur of the Legion d'Honneur). He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1980.

World peace was a particular concern of Bernstein. Speaking at Johns Hopkins University in 1980 and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York in 1983, he described his vision of global harmony. His "Journey for Peace" tour to Athens and Hiroshima with the European Community Orchestra in 1985, commemorated the 40th anniversary of the atom bomb. In December 1989, Bernstein conducted the historic "Berlin Celebration Concerts" on both sides of the Berlin Wall, as it was being dismantled. The concerts were unprecedented gestures of cooperation, the musicians representing the former East Germany, West Germany, and the four powers that had partitioned Berlin after World War II.

Bernstein supported Amnesty International from its inception. To benefit the effort in 1987, he established the Felicia Montealegre Fund in memory of his wife who died in 1978.

In 1990, Bernstein received the Praemium Imperiale, an international prize created in 1988 by the Japan Arts Association and awarded for lifetime achievement in the arts. Bernstein used the $100,000 prize to establish The Bernstein Education Through the Arts (BETA) Fund, Inc. before his death on October 14, 1990.

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Brahms: Double Concerto & Beethoven: Violin Concerto

Brahms: Double Concerto & Beethoven: Violin Concerto

The Art of Violin 4


Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61

recorded 1964

Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Zubin Mehta


Double Concerto for Violin & Cello in A minor, Op. 102

recorded 1963

Gregor Piatigorsky (cello)

New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein


Humoresque in G flat major, Op. 101 No. 7

recorded 1950

Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra, Donald Voorhees


Passacaglia for Violin & Cello/Viola (after Handel)

recorded 1963

Gregor Piatigorsky (cello)


Danza Española No. 2: Habanera, Op. 21, No. 2

recorded 1950

Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra, Donald Voorhees

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Rhine Classics - RH004

(CD - 2 discs)


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Cherubini: Medea

Cherubini: Medea

10 December 1953 · Milano, Teatro alla Scala

Gino Penno (Giasone), Maria Callas (Medea), Maria Luisa Nache (Glauce), Fedora Barbieri (Neris), Giuseppe Modesti (Creonte), Enrico Campi (Capitano), Angela Vercelli (Prima Ancella), Maria Amadini (Seconda Ancella)

Teatro alla Scala, Leonard Bernstein

The character of Medea became closely associated with Maria Callas. In 1969, several years after she had left the opera stage, she even played the betrayed and finally infanticidal sorceress in a film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Her second run of appearances in Cherubini’s opera was at La Scala in 1953 with Leonard Bernstein conducting. He later described her as “a power station” in the role, and soprano and conductor did indeed strike sparks off each other in the theatre: this performance is incandescent. In 1962, Medea brought Callas’s her final appearances at La Scala, the opera house that in the 1950s had become her artistic home.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Warner Classics Maria Callas Live Remastered - 9029584460

(CD - 2 discs)


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Schumann: Cello Concerto & Bloch: Schelomo

Schumann: Cello Concerto & Bloch: Schelomo

Bloch, E:



Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129

Warner Classics - Mstislav Rostropovich Cellist of the Century - 9029589223



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The Year 1917 – Music in Turbulent Times

The Year 1917 – Music in Turbulent Times


The Wooden Prince: Dance of the Princess with the Wooden Doll

Chicago Symphony Orchestra,, Pierre Boulez


Cello Sonata in D minor, H125: Allegro ma non troppo - Molto allegro e agitato

Mstislav Rostropovich (cello), Benjamin Britten (piano)

Browne, W D:

To Gratiana dancing and singing

Ian Bostridge (tenor), Julius Drake (piano)


Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon

Philippe Cassard

Violin Sonata: Allegro vivo

Augustin Dumay (violin), Maria João Pires (piano)



Die letzte Elegie

Die Heimkehr

Anna Prohaska (soprano), Eric Schneider (piano)


El sombrero de tres picos: Danza del molinera (farruca)

Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Lorin Maazel


The Planets: Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age

Boston Symphony Orchestr, William Steinberg

Ives, C:

In Flanders Fields

Anna Prohaska (soprano), Eric Schneider (piano)


Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 19: Andantino

Shlomo Mintz (violin)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado


Le Tombeau de Couperin

Monique Haas (piano)


Fountains of Rome: La fontana di Trevi al meriggio

New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Giuseppe Sinopoli



Orchestre National de l'Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Louis Frémaux


Symphony No. 12 in D minor, Op. 112 'The Year 1917'

Göteborgs Symfoniker, Neeme Järvi


Les Noces: La Tresse

Anny Mory, Patricia Parker, John Mitchinson, Paul Hudson, Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman, Cyprien Katsaris, Homero Francesc

English Bach Festival Percussion Ensemble, English Bach Festival Chorus, Leonard Bernstein

Vaughan Williams:

Symphony No. 3 'A Pastoral Symphony': Lento

1917 was a year of turbulence – both artistically and politically. It was the penultimate year of World War I, the year of the Russian Revolution, and a year that saw artistic and cultural changes take place. This compilation explores the music inspired by the turbulent times at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Each work tells part of the story of this pivotal year, for example:

Respighi’s Fountains of Rome was premiered in 1917 after Toscanini refused to conduct it the previous year after it had been programmed alongside music by Wagner;

Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin was completed in 1917. Each movement is dedicated to a friend who had been killed in the war;

Satie’s Parade was a true collaboration across creative worlds: sets and costumes by Pablo Picasso, scenario by Jean Cocteau, music by Erik Satie, and danced by the Ballets Russes in 1917;

Shostakovich’s monumental Symphony no.12 “The Year 1917” was written in 1961 in the heart of Communist Russia. It has been suggested that Shostakovich originally wrote a satire of Lenin but due to the potential danger had to recompose the piece at the last minute.

Newly written notes (in English, German and French) by Michael Stegemann, professor of musicology at the University of Dortmund, journalist and former pupil of Oliver Messiaen, explore the stories behind the music.

DG - 94796969

(CD - 2 discs)


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Copland: Appalachian Spring

Copland: Appalachian Spring


Adagio for Strings, Op. 11


Candide - Overture


Appalachian Spring


American Festival Overture

A famous coupling of American music that was right up Leonard Bernstein’s street. He was friendly with both Schuman and Copland, and his recording of Samuel Barber’s indelible Adagio is still one of the most renowned. First release of the coupling at mid-price.

“This is a beautiful collection of American music, lovingly and brilliantly performed.” Edward Greenfield, Gramophone Magazine, July 1983

DG Originals - 4795879



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Mahler: Symphony No. 5 - Vinyl Edition

Mahler: Symphony No. 5 - Vinyl Edition


Symphony No. 5

“Bernstein was never one to underplay the emotion of any piece that he conducted, and that intensity leads to a thrilling performance of the Fifth Symphony with the Vienna Phiharmonic. He wrings every last drop of emotion from the Adagietto, and some excellent brass playing leads to an extremely exciting climax” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, June 2014

Presto Greatest Recordings


DG - 4795807

(Vinyl - 2 discs)


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Milhaud: La Création du Monde

Milhaud: La Création du Monde


La Création du Monde, Op. 81

Orchestre National de France, Leonard Bernstein

Le Boeuf sur le toit, Op. 58

Orchestre National de France, Leonard Bernstein

Saudades do Brasil, Op. 67: extracts

The Concert Arts Orchestra, Darius Milhaud

Saudades do Brasil, Op. 67: extracts

Orchestre National de France, Leonard Bernstein

As a young man, Darius Milhaud travelled from France to Latin America and the United States. His experience of the New World inspired Le Boeuf sur le toit and Saudades do Brasil, with their exuberant and sinuous dance rhythms, and La Création du Monde, which sprang from his discovery of Harlem jazz. Who better to capture the thrills, wit and subtlety of these musical fusions than Leonard Bernstein?

Warner Classics Original Jacket Reissues - 9463458082



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Bizet: Carmen

Bizet: Carmen

Marilyn Horne (Carmen), James McCracken (Don José), Adriana Maliponte (Micaëla), Tom Krause (Escamillo), Colette Boky (Frasquita), Marcia Baldwin (Mercédès), Russell Christopher (Le Dancaïre), Andrea Velis (Le Remendado), Raymond Gibbs (Moralès), Donald Gramm (Zuniga)

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein

Digitally re-mastered on 2 SACDs, this release also features a complete libretto both in French and English.

With delight, PENTATONE re-releases Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen, which remains one of the world’s most frequently performed operas from his repertoire. In one of its reviews in September 1982, the New York Times declared, “a strong vote for Bernstein’s much-debated 1973 recording of Bizet’s ‘Carmen,’ with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the great Marilyn Horne in the title role. Bernstein’s daringly slow tempos, though criticized by some, are revelatory. Ms. Horne’s ‘Habanera’ is all the more seductive for its reined-in pacing and sultry phrasing”. Many claim that it is by far the best recording of Carmen. Leonard Bernstein’s rendition is as sharp as Marilyn Horne and James McCracken’s performances are stunning.

Super Audio CD


Hybrid Multi-channel

Pentatone Remastered Classics - PTC5186216

(SACD - 2 discs)


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Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue and other works

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue and other works


Rhapsody in Blue

An American in Paris, tone poem

Piano Concerto in F major

Love Walked In

Bonus track

's Wonderful

Bonus track

Fascinatin' Rhythm

Bonus track

Alto - ALC1247



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Beethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123

Eileen Farrell, Carol Smith, Richard Lewis, Kim Borg & John Corigliano (violin solo)

New York Philharmonic & Westminster Choir, Leonard Bernstein

“Bernstein's first recording of the Missa Solemnis is notable for its high-voltage theatrical impact and committed choral singing. Introspective moments are hampered by close miking.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2014 ***

Alto - ALC1240



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