Profession: Conductor and Composer
Why Famous: Leonard Bernstein was a major American conductor and composer with a huge influence on both classical and popular music both in America and worldwide.
After studying at Harvard University with Walter Piston among others, Bernstein was appointed assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1943, earning wide notice when he had stood in at short notice in November of that year. He later became its musical director. He was in demand worldwide as a guest conductor throughout his career and in 1953 he became the first American conductor to appear at La Scala opera house in Milan.
As a composer Bernstein is most famous for his popular works, especially for such musicals as "On the Town" (1944), and "West Side Story" (1957) with Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins. He wrote the score for three ballets as well as various film scores, including "On the Waterfront" starring Marlon Brando. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including eleven Academy Awards, 17 Grammys and a Tony Award.
In 1989 Bernstein conducted an historic performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in East and West Berlin to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall, which was broadcast worldwide. On television Bernstein was known for his programs aimed at educating young people, the most well-known being his Young Peoples Concert series.
- 1944-01-28 Leonard Bernstein's "Jeremiah" premieres in Pittsburgh
- 1944-04-18 Leonard Bernstein & Jerome Robbins' ballet "Fancy Free" premieres in NYC
- 1944-12-28 Leonard Bernstein's musical "On the Town" premieres in NYC
- 1950-02-26 Leonard Bernstein's "Age of Anxiety" premieres in NYC
- 1950-04-24 Leonard Bernstein's musical "Peter Pan", starring Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff, opens at Imperial Theater, NYC; runs for 320 performances
- 1951-01-27 Leonard Bernstein's musical "Peter Pan", starring Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff, closes at Imperial Theater NYC after 320 performances
- 1976-05-04 Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner's musical "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" opens at Mark Hellinger, NYC; runs for 7 performances
- 1976-05-08 Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner's musical "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" closes at Mark Hellinger, NYC, after 7 performances
- 1989-12-25 Leonard Bernstein conducts Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in East Berlin's Schauspielhaus to celebrate fall of the Berlin Wall. Broadcast worldwide to audience of 100 million.