Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
April 21
Did You Guess?
The most beautiful sound I ever heard:
Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria . . .
All the beautiful sounds of the world in a single word . . .
Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria . . .
Maria!  I just met a girl named . . .

I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were here.  The heroine's name is Maria.

Did you see the c
olor clues?
Can You Guess?
Bernstein wrote the
music for West Side Story.  One song was named for the heroine of the musical.  Can You Guess the heroine's name?

See the bottom of the page for the Answer.
1749 - Premiere of Handel's Musick for the Royal Fireworks against his wishes. Its official premiere was scheduled for April 27. This public rehearsal at Vauxhall Gardens had 12,000 in attendance, which caused traffic jams on London Bridge

1871 - Leo Blech, German composer and conductor, was born.

1889 - Premiere of  Puccini's opera Edgar at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

1899 - Randall Thompson, US composer and teacher, was born in NYC.

1901 - Juan Julian Bautista, Spanish composer, was born.

1917 - Emanuel Vardi, Israeli violist, conductor and painter was born.  Click Here for Sound Samples at Amazon.
1918 - Premiere of Prokofiev's Classical Symphony in Petrograd.

1933 - Easley Blackwood, US composer, was born.

1948 - Premiere of Ralph Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 6. Royal Albert Hall, Sir Adrian Boult conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

1973 - Premiere of Sir Arthur Bliss's Variations for orchestra. Leopold Stokowski conducting in London.

1994 - Premiere of John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1,  The AIDS Symphony.
April 21 marked a very significant day in the life of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein.  In 1939 he made his conducting debut in Cambridge, MA, conducting his own incidental music to The Birds.  In 1942 his clarinet sonata premiered.  In 1988 his Missa Brevis premiered.

Louis Bernstein was born in Lawrence, MA,  August 25, 1918. The son of imigrants, he began piano lessons at age 10.  From the time he was young he was called Leonard, his friends called him Lenny.  He formally changed his name to Leonard at age 16. 
Leonard Bernstein
Bernstein grew up in Boston, attended Boston Latin School, and attended Harvard University, graduating in 1939. Upon graduation from Harvard, Bernstein studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia including conducting with Fritz Reiner.

Bernstein spent summers as Serge Koussevitsky's assistant at Tanglewood before being hired by Artur Rodzinksi to his first permanent conducting post, Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. November 19, 1943, Bernstein was called to the sick bed of conductor Bruno Walter.  He was told that he would conduct that afternoon's nationally broadcast concert.  Critics loved the performance, and he was soon sought as a guest conductor by orchestras worldwide.

In the years following, Bernstein served as Music Director of the New York City Symphony, was head of the conducting faculty at the Berkshire Music Center (Tanglewood) and Professor of Music at Brandeis University. He conducted many of the world's major orchestras and was the first American to conduct at the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan during the regular season.

Bernstein became the New York Philharmonic's music director in 1958.  From then until 1969 he led more concerts with the orchestra than any previous conductor. He was later given the lifetime title of laureate conductor, and appeared with the orchestra frequently.  Bernstein made more than 400 recordings in his life, more than half with the New York Philharmonic.

As a composer, Bernstein created 3 symphonies (Jeremiah, Age of Anxiety and Kaddish), the Serenade for Violin and Orchestra, Chichester Psalms for Orchestra and Chorus, 3 ballets (Fancy Free, Facsimile and Dybbuk), and the operas Trouble in Tahiti and A Quiet Place. For the theater he wrote On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide, West Side Story and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He also wrote Mass, a theatre piece for singers, players and dancers, that opened the Kennedy Center is Washington D.C. in 1971.

Bernstein was a great musical educator.  His televised concerts and lectures started with the Omnibus program in 1954.  In 1958 Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic premiered Young People's Concerts, which continued for 14 seasons.  Among his many appearances on the PBS series Great Performances was the 11-part acclaimed Bernstein's Beethoven. He began the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute in 1982 and helped create a world-class training orchestra at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival.

Bernstein's writings were published in The Joy of Music (1959), Leonard Berstein's Young People's Concerts (1961), The Infinite Variety of Music (1966), and Findings (1982).

Bernstein received many honors.  the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1981) the National Fellowship Award (1985) the MacDowell Colony's gold medal; medals from the Beethoven Society and the Mahler Gesellschaft; the Handel Medallion, New York City's highest honor for the arts. He received Kennedy Center honors in 1980.

In 1978 the Israel Philharmonic sponsored a festival commemorating his years of dedication to Israel. In 1988 It granted him the lifetime title of laureate conductor in 1988.

In December 1989 Bernstein conducted the historic "Berlin Celebration Concerts" on both sides of the Berlin Wall, as it was being dismantled.

In 1990 Bernstein was ordered to retire from conducting by his physicians,  He passed away October 14, 1990.
got rosin? shirt
What Else
"Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable."
                --Leonard Bernstein
West Side Story
the soundtrack
Joshua Bell Plays
West Side Story Suite
(cover art may vary)
Young People's Concerts at Amazon
Look inside this title
West Side Story - Vocal Selections - sheet music at
West Side Story - Vocal Selections Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, music by Leonard Bernstein. Songbook for voice and piano. Violin can play voice line! From the Broadway musical and motion picture "West Side Story". 32 pages.
See more info...
Click Picture to See Bernstein's Music at Amazon
Go For Baroque
Broadway: The American Musical 3PK DVD
West Side Story at Amazon