Essay Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein

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Music Studies
Conductor’s style, musical philosophy, excesses, critical reception, focusing on works of Beethoven.

As a conductor Leonard Bernstein considered Beethoven, of all composers, to be the most interpretable (Bernstein, 1982, p. 292). As with his various approaches to most of the classical and romantic repertoire, however, Bernstein’s interpretations of Beethoven met with a range of responses. Yet the responses could be favorable or extremely unfavorable even when they came from the same source. Harold C, Schonberg, once chief music critic for the New York Times, wrote of a 1960 performance of the Leonora Overture No. 3 and the Piano Concerto No. 1 that they featured a couple of moments that were absolutely bizarre and that the latter was a highly personal and rather vulgar performance which he disliked a great deal (quoted in Peyser, 1987, p. 303). But of a 1979 performance of the Ninth Symphony Schonberg wrote that although some might call it vulgar or …

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