Leonard Bernstein: An American Musician by Allen Shawn

Leonard Bernstein: An American Musician by Allen Shawn

Leonard Bernstein: An American Musician by Allen ShawnThe book at Amazon and on Kindle

In writing the text for I Hate Music in 1943, Bernstein had not only imagined a child’s impressions of concerts. He had also expressed some of his own impatience with the way classical music was presented and perceived. In his Young People’s Concerts in Carnegie Hall he was able to address children as an idealized father figure or older brother, while also communicating subliminally that he could still identify with them. An electric current of subversiveness ran through these concerts, as Bernstein seemed almost to reach inside the psyches of his listeners and unlock the barriers between them and music. The concerts created a sense of community, but they were also the exact opposite of “mass entertainment.” They addressed the individual, not the collective. Parents who brought their children to Carnegie Hall and later Philharmonic Hall, hoping that their child would receive an injection of “cultivation” and “fineness,” and somehow emerge more civilized as a result, were instead confronted by someone who was trying to communicate with a deeper, more philosophical, more emotional side of their children than perhaps they were…

Read extended excerpt at Tablet Magazine, sponsored by the publisher, Yale University Press

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