Jamie Bernstein is a writer, broadcaster, concert narrator, and filmmaker (her documentary Crescendo: The Power of Music is now available on Netflix). She is the oldest daughter of revered composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein and offers a rare look at her father on the centennial of his birth in her deeply intimate and evocative Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein (Harper/June 12, 2018).
Leonard Bernstein was an enormous celebrity during one of the headiest periods of American cultural life, as well as the most protean musician in twentieth-century America. But to his eldest daughter, Jamie, he was above all the man in the scratchy brown bathrobe who smelled of cigarettes; the jokester and compulsive teacher who enthused about Beethoven and the Beatles; the insomniac whose 4 a.m. composing breaks involved spooning baby food out of the jar. In public and private, Lenny was larger than life.
InFamous Father Girl, Bernstein invites us into her family’s glamorous world. But this is also the story of a young girl who herself caught the creative bug and the desire to express herself musically. And the tension of doing so, while living under the shadow of the country’s most renowned musician, forms this memoir’s emotional core.