Leonard Bernstein’s 100th Year

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Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein was widely known as a flamboyant and intuitive conductor although he considered himself a composer first. He left us with many enduring compositions, well-known musicals such as West Side Story, Candide and On the Town but also sacred music, Chichester Psalms and his Mass. With the use of television, he was able to widely promote classical music appreciation in his Young People’s Concerts. The critics loved the series. It, along with being the handsome, stylish conductor of the New York Philharmonic, elevated Bernstein to star status. He was undoubtedly a genius, but was he a “great” composer? What is his legacy?

There have been several musical celebrations honoring Bernstein on his 100th birthday year – Tanglewood, Glimmerglass and the New York Philharmonic, to name a few.

Suffield will also celebrate this man with a presentation by Jeffrey Engel, a music historian, whose discussions on classical music are riveting, and dare I say, as educational as Leonard Bernstein’s. Mr. Engel will discuss the composer and conductor at the Suffield Senior Center on September 22 at 2 p.m. Drop-ins are welcome, but attendees are requested to reserve a seat at the suffield-library.org or by calling the Kent Memorial Library at 860-668-3896. The Friends of the Library are funding the free program.

Mr. Engel is a graduate of Ithaca College where he majored in cello and music history. He continued musicological studies at the University of Connecticut (Storrs). Mr. Engel lived in Paris for fourteen years where he earned a diploma in French and studied art history at the Sorbonne. He played with the Paris Opera as well as with numerous symphonic orchestras and chamber ensembles. Mr. Engel also is a contributor to the recently published edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Since his return to America he is a cello instructor and presents music lectures throughout Connecticut.

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