Leonard Bernstein An American Musician Allen Shawn

Jewish Lives
Publication date:
13 Nov 2014
Yale University Press
360 pages: 210 x 146 x 30mm
1 b-w illus.

A fresh appreciation of the great musical figure that gives him his due as composer as well as conductor

Leonard Bernstein stood at the epicenter of twentieth-century American musical life. His creative gifts knew no boundaries as he moved easily from the podium, to the piano, to television with his nationally celebrated Young People’s Concerts, which introduced an entire generation to the joy of classical music. In this fascinating new biography, the breadth of Bernstein’s musical composition is explored, through the spectacular range of music he composed—from West Side Story to Kaddish to A Quiet Place and beyond—and through his intensely public role as an internationally celebrated conductor. For the first time, the composer’s life and work receive a fully integrated analysis, offering a comprehensive appreciation of a multi-faceted musician who continued to grow as an artist well into his final days.

Allen Shawn is a composer, pianist, educator, and author who lives in Vermont and teaches composition and music history at Bennington College. His previous books include Arnold Schoenberg’s Journey and Twin: A Memoir.

"Excellent."—David Denby, New Yorker

'There were, and are, critics who believe that Bernstein’s facility and fecundity was merely dilettantism. Allen Shawn’s suave new biography hopes to give them pause.'—Christopher Bray, The Spectator

‘Immensely valuable as a concise study of a major figure; sympathetic in its account of his life and its artistic and social context, and illuminating in its critical judgements.’—Anthony Burton, BBC Music.

"I can't imagine a better biography of Leonard Bernstein. His intensity, complexity, and personal charm come across fully; so do his manifest importance to twentieth-century American culture and his intimate relation to the music he produced. Bravo!"—Wendy Lesser