Book Review: Composer Leonard Bernstein’s daughter tells all in new memoir

By Johanna DeBiase - Taos News
August 22, 2019

Celebrities always hold a special power over the general populace. People are drawn to fame like they’re drawn to the popular girl in high school. We want to be near to them to absorb some of their shine. But what if you have no choice in the matter? What if the celebrity is your own dad?

Jamie Bernstein explores the good and bad effects of having a famous father in her memoir, “Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein.”

She writes, “As soon as Alexander could talk, I realized what the point of a brother was. We became conspirators … Together we created a force field around ourselves, a layer of insulation from the raucous confusing world of our parents. But there was something seductive about that world, too, with its laughter and teasing; its music, theater and books; the screaming parlor games; the elegance of smoking.”

Leonard Bernstein, the author’s father (who died in 1990), is a world-acclaimed American composer, conductor and pianist most famous for his works “West Side Story,” “Candide” and “On the Town,” among others. For many years while raising his family in the 1950s and ’60s, he is the music director for the New York Philharmonic. During this time, he holds a lot of sway in the music world and is connected to many famous people.

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Jamie Bernstein