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LGBT People Of History Part Sixty Two Leonard Bernstein

Updated on April 12, 2012
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein | Source
Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York City Symphony (1945)
Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York City Symphony (1945) | Source

Leonard Bernstein

Born Louis Bernstein on August 25th 1918 in Lawrence, Massachusetts to his Jewish Ukrainian parents Samuel and Jennie Bernstein.


His grandmother had insisted on him being called Louis, though his parents always referred to him as Leonard. He later changed his name officially to Leonard when he was just fifteen.


He was among the first American conductors to be born and educated in the United States to receive world wide acclaim.


He was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer and also a pianist.


After he graduated from Boston Latin School, he attended Harvard University. Majoring in Music in 1939 with a BA cum laude, he went on to enrol at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he studied conducting.


He moved to New York where he was the replacement conductor at a concert at Carnegie Hall and an overnight success. He became the musical director of the New York Symphony Orchestra and started composing around this time.


After the war he toured Europe and started a life-long relationship with Israel. He became very well-known due to his exuberant and emotional conducting style and also from his television appearances. He had collaborations with Shostakovich, Sondheim and Copland. His musical taste was expansive – not only classical. His own compositions for ‘West Side Story’, as well as ‘Candide’ and ‘On the Town’ became famous in their own right.


Bernstein was gay. He was married to Felicia Cohn Montealegrein 1951 and they had three children. It is probable that this marriage was one of convenience but it seemed that they loved each other as friends. He would have extra- marital relationships with men according to many sources. In 1976 he decided he could no longer hide his homosexuality and left his wife to live with writer Tom Cothran. He died of AIDS in 1981. After this Bernstein seemed to indulge himself in various sexual exploits.


Politically he leant to the left campaigning for example for the banning of nuclear weapons.


Bernstein performed many concerts with all the major classical music figures, wrote much music and became a world renowned figure. One of the most important events in his career was the performances of Beethoven’s 9th in both West and East Berlin in December 1989. The audience was estimated at 100 million.

Announcing his retirement in 1990 he died only five days later from pneumonia and a pleural tumour. He was only 72 years old.

Callum & Ian

With Thanks To Wikipedia

Our New LGBT People Of History Website
Our New LGBT People Of History Website | Source
LGBT People Of History Archive
LGBT People Of History Archive | Source
Quentin Crisp
Quentin Crisp | Source
Frankie Howerd
Frankie Howerd | Source

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    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 

      6 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      What a talented, passionate man!

      Ian.

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