Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Joy of Music

I've accepted the Blogging A to Z Challenge. All month, I'm going to blog about Books from A to Z.

I got really sad when Leonard Bernstein died. He always seemed like such a magnetic presence, like someone who'd always been there, would always be there, leading the culture, interpreting it for us. I had a couple of his books, The Joy of Music and The Infinite Variety of Music, and just felt like he'd always been in the background of my life. Turns out he was a pretty good writer as well as a great conductor and composer.
The Joy of Music Leonard Bernstein
In college, I'd gone through a period of buying Bernstein music. I really wanted to enjoy his special studio recording of West Side Story - which contains probably the most purely beautiful music ever written for Broadway - but was put off by the opera singers. especially the anachronistic accent from Jose Carreras for the character of Tony. But his recording of orchestral highlights from West Side Story (teamed with Rhapsody in Blue) remains one of my favorite CDs.

After he died, I bought and read an interesting biography of him. I dug out my recordings and played them. And played them. And played them. I especially love his first symphony and Chichester Psalms. Not too long ago, I finally checked out Mass from the library. I'd never really heard it before. It's a really interesting piece, not always my cup of tea, but full of fascinating material. And I discovered that A Simple Song is simply amazing.

1 comment:

Claire Legrand said...

I totally agree re: Bernstein. SUCH a magnetic and JOYFUL presence. Sometimes when I want to feel invigorated, I watch the YouTube video of him conducting Beethoven's 9th to commemorate the Berlin Wall coming down. The sheer amount of life force wrapped up in one little man is incredibly inspiring.