Telling Bernstein's life stories

By Amy Biancolli - Albany Times Union
Aug 10, 2018

Saturday, Aug. 25, will mark 100 years since the birth of Leonard Bernstein, who was one of a kind. Only there wasn't just one of him. There were two. No, wait. Four. At least.

Just ask his daughter.

"You can't recreate Leonard Bernstein, who was kind of a unique alignment of the planets. He could do it all," says Jamie Bernstein. In a recent phone conversation, she ticks off four basic models of the man she knew as "Daddy" and "L.B.":

1.Leonard Bernstein the conductor, the dashing and electric figure on the podium of the New York Philharmonic and orchestras around the world.

2.Leonard Bernstein the composer, the intense and fertile mastermind of symphonies, ballets, operas, choral works and musicals, including "West Side Story."

3.Leonard Bernstein the educator, the lifelong and ardent teacher behind the televised Philharmonic "Young People's Concerts."

4.Leonard Bernstein the humanitarian and social activist, subject of an 800-page FBI file.

"J. Edgar Hoover had a thing for Leonard Bernstein," said his daughter, remarking on Bernstein No. Four. "I think he had a crush on him."

Jamie Bernstein is the author "Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein" (2018, Harper) and an itinerant champion for the music and legacy of all those many Leonards. On Friday at Tanglewood — the conductor's old and frequent stomping grounds — she'll serve as host and presenter of a Young People's Concert with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a one-hour program modeled on her father's.

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Jamie Bernstein