Leonard Bernstein

From Wind Repertory Project
Leonard Bernstein


Leonard Bernstein (25 August 1918 in Lawrence, Mass. - 14 October 1990, New York, N.Y.) was an American composer, pianist, and conductor.

Bernstein was born to Russian immigrants and attended Boston Latin School, Harvard University, and the Curtis Institute of Music. His studied with composers Edward Burlingame Hill and Walter Piston as well as conducting with Fritz Reiner. In the summers of 1940 and 1941 he studied conducting at Tanglewood with Serge Koussevitzky along with Frederick Fennell, Lukas Foss, and Walter Hendl. He become assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1943 and it was in this role he became famous by filling in last minute for Bruno Walter for a national broadcast on 14 November 1943.

His Symphony No. 1, "Jeremiah" was premiered by the Pittsburgh Symphony in January 1944 followed by Fancy Free and On the Town by the end of the year. These successes led to numerous opportunities overseas, including being the first American to conduct at La Scala. In 1951 he become the head of conducting at Tanglewood and seven years later became Music Director of the New York Philharmonic (1958-1969). In this position he promoted new music, developed a series of Young People's Concerts, and recorded the symphonies of Gustav Mahler but was limited in his time to compose.

Bernstein was able to compose more in the 1970s. His achievements included Kennedy Center Honor for Lifetime of Contributions to American Culture Through the Performing Arts, 11 Emmy Awards, election to the Academy of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Works for Winds

Adaptable Music

  • Cool (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Murtha) (1957/2018)
  • West Side Story (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Sweeney) (1957/2015)

All Wind Works


  • Cummings, Paul "Three Dance Episode from 'On the Town'." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 11, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 1061-1073. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2018.
  • Leonard Bernstein website
  • Leonard Bernstein. Wikipedia. Accessed 7 January 2017
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 682.
  • Schiff, David. "Bernstein, Leonard." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online Accessed March 16, 2010
  • Spurlin, Corey. "On the Waterfront." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 9, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 962-975. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2013.