3 thoughts on “Where Were You the Day Bernstein Died?

  1. Ray Riska says:

    I was living in Dallas at the time that Lenny passed away. I was out shopping for a last minute birthday gift for my wife and heard the news while I was shopping for some CD’s – no, the news did not make me buy a Bernstein CD on the spot, but it certainly made me reflect on his legacy as one of the greatest musicians of our time. Lenny’s death was another blow to the classical musical world, following Herbert von Karajan and Vladimir Horowitz the year prior to that, and it certainly added value to the extensive list of recordings he left behind. To this day, I have yet to hear a more dynamic Brahms Symphonies cycle than his early 80′s cycle with the Vienna Philharmonic, or a more memorable Beethoven 9th than his ‘Ode to Freedom’. Leonard Bernstein is still missed by many.

  2. Jennifer Foster says:

    Ray,
    Your comment reminds me of something: My father once pulled out three recordings of a Mahler Symphony (the 6th, I think) from his LP collection. All three featured Bernstein as conductor. There was a decade or more separating each recording. Dad pointed at the timings on the slow movements. He showed me how, with each passing decade, Bernstein chose to spend more time in the melancholy spaces in the music. Each slow movement was longer than the earlier recording’s by two or three minutes–a considerable shift.
    I’ve noticed I can see the same trend in Bernstein’s conducting comparing timings across recordings in our music library here at the station. It’s an enchanting trend. It would be simplistic to assume he “slowed down” because he aged. I believe he slowed down because he understood what was really going on in those slow movements and hoped we would, too.
    Jennifer

  3. Mark Seeley says:

    Its odd, but I really can’t recall when or where I was when Lenny died. However, being a Clevelander, I do remember when George Szell died in the summer of 1970. I was a freshman in high school. My parents took me to Blossom Music Center to hear the orchestra. The musicians played a piece by Bach without a conductor.

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