The Leonard Bernstein Letters Nigel Simeone

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
11 Oct 2013
ISBN:
9780300179095
Dimensions:
606 pages: 234 x 156 x 39mm
Illustrations:
24 black-&-white illustrations

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Leonard Bernstein was a charismatic and versatile musician - a brilliant conductor who attained international super-star status, and a gifted composer of Broadway musicals (West Side Story), symphonies (Age of Anxiety), choral works (Chichester Psalms), film scores (On the Waterfront), and much more. Bernstein was also an enthusiastic letter writer, and this book is the first to present a wide-ranging selection of his correspondence. The letters have been chosen for the insights they offer into the passions of his life - musical and personal - and the extravagant scope of his musical and extra-musical activities. Bernstein's letters tell much about this complex man, his collaborators, his mentors, and others close to him. His galaxy of correspondents encompassed, among others, Aaron Copland, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Robbins, Thornton Wilder, Boris Pasternak, Bette Davis, Adolph Green, Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis, and family members including his wife Felicia and his sister Shirley. The majority of these letters have never been published before. They have been carefully chosen to demonstrate the breadth of Bernstein's musical interests, his constant struggle to find the time to compose, his turbulent and complex sexuality, his political activities, and his endless capacity for hard work. Beyond all this, these writings provide a glimpse of the man behind the legends: his humanity, warmth, volatility, intellectual brilliance, wonderful eye for descriptive detail, and humour.

Nigel Simeone is well known as a writer and speaker on music and is the author of several books including Leonard Bernstein: West Side Story. He lives in Northamptonshire.

“With their intellectual brilliance, humour and wonderful eye for detail, Leonard Bernstein’s letters blow all biographies out of the water. His galaxy of correspondents includes Stephen Sondheim, Boris Pasternak and Jacqueline Kennedy. Full of fresh information and the authentic voice of a constant seeker.”—The Economist, (named a 2013 Book of the Year)

“His letters have a tremendous zest, and a good journalistic eye, too, and since he was often at the right place at the right time, at some of the key moments in his 20th-century history, this gives them a wider interest.”—Christopher Hart, The Sunday Times

“It is a major, highly accomplished piece of work in its own right.”—Illtyd Harrington, Camden New Journal

The Leonard Bernstein Letters. . .contains so much that is startling and unknown that all past books, including his own, become instantly inadequate. Don’t take my word for it. On the jacket, Bernstein’s official biographer, Humphrey Burton, declares that, with this book in hand, ‘I want to start all over again.’”—Norman Lebrecht, Standpoint Magazine

“Simeone’s choice of letters [are] superbly amplified by his exhaustively researched footnotes, which manage to identify and flesh our even the most obscure of his subject’s multifarious correspondents.”—Stephen Walsh, The Spectator

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