Donald Macleod is joined by Bernstein protegée, conductor Marin Alsop, to look back at Bernstein’s hectic life as composer, pianist, thinker and entertainer.
There are no neutrals when it comes to Leonard Bernstein: exhibitionist, a playboy touring Italy in a Maserati, an exhilarating conductor, provocative thinker, ‘one of the most electrifying personalities of our time’. 2018 marks the centenary of this life-affirming composer who always preferred to call himself, simply, ‘musician’.
Donald and Marin begin in the world of jazz which inspired much of Bernstein’s finest work, then look at the composer’s gift for reaching new audiences through the theatre. They discuss Bernstein’s reputation as a musical thinker– treading a delicate line between the innovative and the kitsch, and trace his journey from upstart son of a Jewish immigrant to superstar ambassador for American music.
Thanks to the BBC radio and TV archives, we hear from Bernstein himself in interviews he gave through the course of his prolific career. We discover a man who was forceful in his views, passionate to the extreme, charismatic on the stage, but also latterly tormented by regrets and a feeling that he had never quite achieved the magnum opus inside him.
Enter Three Sailors (Fancy Free)
Prelude, Fugue and Riffs
The Lark (Latin Choruses)
The Age of Anxiety (part 2)
arr. Buddy Rich: West Side Story
The Children Fly (Peter Pan)
Wonderful Town (Overture)
A Quiet Place (Act 1 finale)
West Side Story (excerpts)
Slava! A Political Overture
I Hate Music!
Kaddish (1st mvt)
Mr and Mrs Webb Say Goodnight (Arias and Barcarolles)
On the Waterfront (Suite)
Lucky to be Me (On the Town)
For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Bernstein: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00007gc
And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3cjHdZlXwL7W41XGB77X3S0/composers-a-to-z
Presenter: Donald Macleod
Producer: Michael Surcombe for BBC Wales