YOUNGER readers accustomed to hear- ing the name of the late Leonard Bernstein uttered only in reverential tones may find it hard to believe that America’s best-known classical musician was for a long time treated as something perilously close to a figure of fun.
Harold Schonberg, chief music critic of the New York Times throughout Bernstein’s decade-long tenure (1959-69) as music director of the New York Philharmonic, regularly portrayed him as a flamboyant poseur: "Toward the end of the Liszt concerto, he rose vertically into the air, la Nijinsky, and hovered there a good fifteen sec- onds by the clock." Virgil Thomson, perhaps the most influential American music critic of the 20th century, was even more dismissive of Bernstein as a composer: "Bernstein … does not compose with either originality or much skill. His pieces lack contrapuntal coherence, melodic dis- tinction, contrapuntal progress, harmonic logic, and concentration of thought." And Tom Wolfe’s 1970 essay, "Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s," in which Bernstein was mercilessly caricatured as the ultimate limousine liberal, exploded whatever claims he still had to being taken seriously as an intellectual.
But the rise and fall of reputations is a futures market, and Leonard Bernstein is looking more and more like a blue-chip stock. More than 50 years after his debut as a conductor, and almost four years after his death at the age of seventy- two, he remains the only American-born per- former to have found a secure place in the first tier of such classical-music superstars as Tosca- nini, Horowitz, and Callas. Sales of his recordings reportedly doubled between 1990 and 1993, and though his concert works have yet to win wide- spread popularity, two of his musical comedies, West Side Story and Candide, and one of his bal- let scores, Fancy Free, are performed regularly around the world.
Nevertheless, many of the old doubts about Bernstein persist. Norman Podhoretz once said of Saul Bellow that "there was a sense in which the validity of a whole phase of American experi- ence was felt to hang on the question of whether or not he would turn out to be a great novelist." The musicians of my generation-born after World War II-felt that way about Leonard Bernstein. To us, he was American music, and we wanted him to be great. It was as if his success would somehow ratify our own strivings, and prove that we, too, could do great things.
I suspect that Bernstein was aware of the ex- tent to which so many people had an emotional stake in his career, and that he found it intimidat- ing. It was a cliche, even a joke, that he could never decide what to do with himself: compose, conduct, play the piano, write Broadway shows, do TV. But what Bernstein really wanted was to be a great composer. "I never had a career," he said in 1984. "Conducting is really just a thing." It was a theme to which he returned days before his death in 1990: "The obvious fear is that I’ll be remembered-however vaguely-not as a com- poser but as a conductor." Thus far, that fear is being realized. But the story of Leonard Bernstein’s impact is far from over. Indeed, those of us who grew up with "Lenny on our minds" (in Samuel Lipman’s per- fect phrase) are still left with the need to decide, at least tentatively, just how good he really was.
IN MAKING that effort, we have the help of two recent biographies. Leonard Bernstein, by far the longer of the two, is by Humphrey Burton,* a British producer who di- rected the many televised concerts and documen- taries Bernstein made during the last twenty years of his life. Though the book was written with the cooperation of Bernstein’s family and with exclu- sive access to his huge personal archive, it is not, Burton says, "an ‘authorized’ biography. Nobody has told me what to say or prevented me from saying what I wanted." Be that as it may, Burton’s biography has the tone of a brief for the defense, albeit one written by a lawyer with mixed feelings about his client; it is also, less obviously, a book by an Englishman about an American, and suf- fers at times from an inadequate feel for various aspects, some of them significant, of American culture. Rich but unselective in detail, Leonard *Doubleday, 608 pp., $25.00.
TERRY TEACHOUT is arts columnist of the New York Daily News and associate editor of the New Dance Review. He is writing H. L. Mencken: A Life and editing A Second Mencken Chrestomathy.
4950/COMMENTARY OCTOBER 1994 Bernstein contrives to be at once slightly pedes- trian and thoroughly engrossing.
Meryle Secrest’s Leonard Bernstein: A Life* is both considerably shorter and very different in tone, mainly because the author, a professional biographer whose earlier subjects include Frank Lloyd Wright and Bernard Berenson, was not al- lowed to make use of the Bernstein archives and because Bernstein’s family discouraged his clos- est friends from talking to her. (An exception was Shirley Bernstein, Leonard’s sister, who spoke candidly to Secrest about his younger years.) As a result, Secrest was forced to rely more extensively on secondary sources than Burton, and her book, while mostly admiring, tends to take a drier, more jaundiced view of Bernstein the man.
Neither Burton nor Secrest has much of inter- est to say about Bernstein’s compositions, or his place in the history of American music. (Joan Peyser’s much-criticized 1987 biography, for all its blatant errors and reliance on unsourced scan- dalous gossip, gives a better idea of how Bernstein stood in relation to the musical crosscurrents of his time.) For this reason alone, neither of these books can be considered definitive.
Taken as preliminary reports, however, and especially when read side by side, they are very useful, partly because they tend to correct each other: Burton’s intimacy is balanced by Secrest’s skepticism. Though there remain a few gaping holes-we still await, for example, an account of Bernstein’s long relationship with the choreogra- pher Jerome Robbins, who was responsible for the original conceptions of both Fancy Free and West Side Story-it is now possible for those wish- ing to take stock of his work to do so based on a detailed knowledge of his life.
HE temptation to concentrate on Bernstein the man at the expense of Bernstein the musician is easy to understand.
From the beginning, Leonard Bernstein had an uncanny knack for self-dramatization. Even his angst felt stagey. ("I remember saying to him," the composer Lukas Foss told Burton, "that he had such an expansive luxurious way of being miserable that it didn’t seem miserable to me, ever.") In addition, he exuded at all times the tangy odor of scandal. Though stories about Bernstein’s private life were sanitized by friendly journalists well into the 70’s, tales of his elephan- tine ego, heavy drinking, and increasingly fla- grant homosexuality were long the common coin of conversation wherever musicians gathered.
Perhaps one should call it bisexuality, since Bernstein married and had three children. But going strictly by the weight of documentary evi- dence, it would appear that Bernstein was mainly attracted to men. (A close woman friend believed that "he required men sexually and women emo- tionally.") And despite the oft-expressed wishes of some of his friends, his sex life cannot simply be dismissed as a purely private matter. For one thing, traces of Bernstein’s sexual interests can be found in many of his compositions, among them the Serenade after Plato’s Symposium and, less predictably, West Side Story, a parable of for- bidden love as unabashedly homosexual in its subtext as any Tennessee Williams play. Even more to the point, Bernstein was part of the in- formal network of gay artists which played a key institutional role in American classical music and dance during the 30’s and 40’s.
Though the doings of this group have yet to be chronicled in any detail by historians of Ameri- can music, its existence has always been common knowledge, and one of its great successes was to help boost the career of the young Leonard Bernstein. It is, to put it mildly, no coincidence that three of Bernstein’s earliest patrons-the conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos and the compos- ers Aaron Copland and Marc Blitzstein-were homosexual. Bernstein appears to have been sexually involved with all three men; Secrest even speculates that he "made the decision to aban- don his heterosexual pursuits for the good of his career." But one need not go that far to recog- nize that the young Bernstein’s homosexuality gave him entr6e to artistic circles not normally open to a Harvard undergraduate.
Of special interest is Bernstein’s relationship with Copland, which has never before been dis- cussed honestly in print, least of all in Copland’s own poker-faced memoirs. Copland was for all intents and purposes Bernstein’s composition teacher; Bernstein returned the favor by champi- oning, as a conductor, his mentor’s music. In- deed, the eventual recognition of Copland as the outstanding American composer of the 20th cen- tury owed much to Bernstein’s advocacy.
But the relationship, it turns out, went deeper than that. Burton’s book contains hitherto un- published excerpts from the Copland-Bernstein correspondence which show not only that the two men were lovers at one point (probably in 1940), but that Copland also went to great lengths to encourage Bernstein to become a conductor: I keep being properly impressed by all the of- fers, interests, contacts, personalities that flit through your life. But don’t forget our party line-you’re heading for conducting in a big way-and everybody and everything that doesn’t lead there is an excrescence on the body politic.
The irony is that homosexuality proved to be an agonizing dilemma for Leonard Bernstein, both because it left him wracked with seizures of guilt (as a young man, he spoke of having "a canker in my soul") and because it forced him to lead a life of hypocrisy in order to achieve his main professional goal, the musical directorship of a major American orchestra. Not until 1959 * Knopf, 496 pp., $30.00.HOW GOOD WAS LEONARD BERNSTEIN?/51 did Bernstein take charge of the New York Phil- harmonic, eight years after he married the Chil- ean actress Felicia Montealegre. Had he wished merely to be a composer, Bernstein’s sexuality would not have stood in the way, any more than it did for Copland, Thomson, or Samuel Barber. It was his additional desire to be a public figure- a community leader, as it were-that made it im- possible for Bernstein to be openly gay.
Being Jewish seemed to present another ob- stacle to winning the leadership of a major or- chestra. Certainly Serge Koussevitzky, music di- rector of the Boston Symphony and Bernstein’s most important mentor as a conductor, thought it did. Koussevitzky, who himself had converted from Judaism to Christianity as a young man, knew well that the upper-class boards of trustees of America’s leading orchestras were reluctant to hire Jewish conductors. He therefore advised his young protege to change his name to "Leonard S. Burns." But Bernstein refused. Burning though he was with ambition, he seems never at any time to have considered concealing his Jewishness to further that ambition. On the contrary: unlike Koussevitzky, Bernstein probably sensed that Jewishness was becoming more of an advantage than a liability in postwar America.
In any case, having grown up in Boston, the son of mildly observant immigrant parents, Bernstein, both in his life and his work, always made a great point of his Jewishness (and was always passionately devoted to Israel). Burton even claims that Bernstein created "the most sig- nificant body of specificallyJewish work achieved by aJewish composer working in the field of clas- sical music." This may be excessive, but Burton’s description of Bernstein’s relation to Jewishness is fair enough: [O] ne is struck by how deeply the interior life of this worldly man was influenced by his Jew- ish inheritance, by the Hebrew texts he learned as a child (at his father’s behest), and by the synagogue music he heard sung in Temple Mishkan Tefila every Friday evening. His first major composition, the Jeremiah Symphony, was a setting of beautiful Hebrew words about desolation and despair, taken from the Book of Lamentations. His big choral works, the Kaddish Symphony (a Jewish requiem in all but name), the Chichester Psalms, and Mass, all include settings of Hebrew or Aramaic reli- gious texts, while the Dybbuk ballet score is the most obvious demonstration of his concern for the mystic aspect of hisJewish blood and faith.
DURTON is less accurate in describing Bernstein’s politics. Like Secrest, he tends to take Bernstein’s simple-minded left- ism at face value, seeing it as an expression of idealism and humanism. A more discerning judg- ment comes from Hilton Kramer, writing last summer in the New York Post after it was revealed that the FBI had kept tabs on Bernstein: There can hardly have been a single commit- tee, publication, open letter, or organization promoting the interests of the Soviet Union, the Communist party, and their fellow-travel- ers during the years of Bernstein’s ascent to international stardom to which the conductor- composer did not contribute his name and money. About all such causes, he proved to be a perfect fool, apparently believing to the end- and against mountains of evidence to the con- trary-that they were "good" causes.
Moreover, both Burton and Secrest fail to con- vey the extent to which Bernstein became one of the emblematic figures of American culture. In Bernstein, the left-wing populism of the 30’s and the politics of liberation of the 60’s joined hands, driving him to embrace not only every front orga- nization in sight but almost every other lunatic political tendency of his time. Whether or not this mattered in the larger scheme of things, it mattered greatly for him. For the fact is that in Bernstein’s politics lay the seeds of his ultimate destruction: seeking liberation, he found chaos instead.
A monster of self-indulgence, Bernstein none- theless managed to keep his appetites under con- trol during the 60’s, mainly because the New York Philharmonic would have fired him had he become an object of scandal. In 1969, he retired from the Philharmonic and became an itinerant conductor beholden to no one; eight months later, he and his wife Felicia threw the fund-rais- ing party for the Black Panthers immortalized in "Radical Chic." In the course of the following decade, he temporarily deserted Felicia for a young man, proclaimed his homosexuality to the world (thereby astonishing his children, to whom he had earlier denied it), surrounded himself with an entourage of handsome sycophants, wrecked his health with drugs and drink, com- posed a smallish portfolio of appallingly preten- tious music, and became a public embarrassment whenever he opened his mouth. There can sel- dom have been a midlife crisis quite like it.
The death of Felicia Bernstein in 1978 acceler- ated her husband’s disintegration. He continued to brag to awestruck reporters about his invul- nerability: I was diagnosed as having emphysema in my mid-twenties, and I’ve been smoking for de- cades. I was told that if I didn’t stop, I’d be dead by age twenty-five. Then they said I’d be dead by age forty-five. And fifty-five. Well, I beat the rap. I smoke, I drink, I stay up all night and screw around. I’m overcommitted on all fronts.
But his children knew better. His daughter Jamie (who once discovered to her horror that her fa- ther had encouraged her to have an affair with a man with whom he himself had previously had sexual relations) told Burton, "After my mother5 2/ COMMENTARY OCTOBER 1994 was gone, there was no one to check him except us and there were limits for us because we didn’t live with him. So after that it was just Maestro City all the way." Even the sympathetic Burton lets slip a certain amount of tight-lipped distaste at the pitiful ca- rousing of Bernstein’s final years, and Secrest and Joan Peyser, lacking the inhibitions of friendship, are a good deal more frank. But none of Leonard Bernstein’s biographers sums up his last years as unsparingly as did his wife. In 1976, Bernstein informed Felicia, who had had a mastectomy two years before and was (though she did not yet know it) dying of cancer, that he was leaving her for a male lover. "You’re going to die a bitter and lonely old man," she told him. And so he did.
HROUGHOUT Leonard Bernstein’s ca- reer, many critics tended automati- cally to assume that, for all his great gifts, there was necessarily something slick and second-rate about his use of them. This assumption was a function of his celebrity. Some, to be sure, were blinded by Bernstein’s relentless charm. Others, knowing what they knew about the man, found it difficult to take the artist seriously.
But Bernstein’s fellow musicians saw through his grotesque antics. They recognized, among other things, the truth of a remark he made to the BBC’s Huw Wheldon in 1959: "I’m extremely humble about whatever gifts I may have, but I am not modest about the work I do. I work ex- tremely hard and all the time." While he may not have been above going to bed with men who could help push him up the ladder of success, he also studied with some of the toughest teachers in America-for example, piano with Isabelle Vengerova, whose other American pupils in- cluded Gary Graffman and Jacob Lateiner, and conducting with Fritz Reiner, one of the supreme baton technicians of the century. They were all impressed by his talent and application, and pre- dicted great things for him.
He also succeeded in impressing the New York Philharmonic, the hardest-boiled gang of conduc- tor-haters in the world, to which some witty musi- cian long ago gave the nickname "Murder, Inc." In 1943, the twenty-five-year-old Bernstein, then assistant conductor of the Philharmonic, was called on at the last minute to substitute for the great Bruno Walter at a Sunday broadcast mati- nee. Not only had Bernstein not rehearsed the program, he had never before led the orchestra in public. What happened when he mounted the podium and gave the downbeat for Schumann’s Manfred Overture, as described to Secrest by a violist who had recentlyjoined the Philharmonic, could never have been brought off by a mere glamor boy: The idea was, he’d follow us, only it didn’t work out that way… Here were players in their fifties and sixties with long experience. And here this little snot-nose comes in and creates a more exciting performance. We were sup- posed to have gone over it with Bruno Walter, we had rehearsed it with him and performed it with him, and this had nothing to do with Bruno Walter. The orchestra stood up and cheered. We were open-mouthed. That man was the most extraordinary musician I have met in my life.
It is worth remembering, too, that Bernstein distinguished himself as conductor, composer, pianist, and teacher, a four-fold achievement vir- tually unprecedented in the history of music.
True, he hardly devoted himself with equal fervor to all these pursuits. Once past his student days, for instance, Bernstein never again played a solo piano recital, preferring occasional appearances with the Philharmonic and other orchestras as pianist-conductor. But the few recordings he made at the keyboard are all superbly vital and imaginative, suggesting that he could have had a major career as a soloist had he wanted it.* Bernstein’s teaching, too, was basically a side- line, though it brought him well-deserved fame.
The 53 Young People’s Concerts he televised with the Philharmonic between 1958 and 1972 remain a singular achievement in the field of music ap- preciation. Especially when compared to the tinselly way in which classical music is hawked on public television today, these commercial broad- casts (which are now available on videocassette from Sony) come across as admirably straightfor- ward both in substance and style. As always, he made ample use of his charm, but never let it get in the way of the music.
HIS was not necessarily the case when Bernstein conducted for adults.
"Routine, with its loveless mediocrity, lies like hoar-frost on the surface of the world’s greatest masterpieces," the conductor Wilhelm Furtw/ing- ler once said. Musicians who worked with Bern- stein are unanimous in praising his ability to lift everyday music-making out of the swamp of rou- tine, to turn each concert into a once-in-a-life- time occasion. The trouble was that the occasions in question were all too often celebrations of the man on the podium rather than the masterpieces on the program. At his worst, Bernstein was the Barbra Streisand of conductors, an ego-filled blimp who used the classics as a backdrop for his dramatic posturing.
Given his monumental vanity, however, the remarkable thing was not that Bernstein some- times conducted badly, but that he managed so often to conduct brilliantly. Once again, the re- cordings tell the story better than any biography.
The problem is in sorting them out. Bernstein made literally hundreds of records in the course * Bernstein’s definitive 1947 recording of the Copland Piano Sonata is currently available on CD as RCA Victor 09026-60915-2.HOW GOOD WAS LEONARD BERNSTEIN? /53 of his 50 years as a conductor, most of them for Columbia and DGG.* He recorded everything from Handel’s Messiah to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde to Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (three times). It is risky to generalize about so large and varied a body of work, but Bernstein tended to be at his best in his Philharmonic days, particularly in the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, where his performances were brisk, volatile, es- sentially serious in temperament yet dramatic to an appropriate degree.
The 19th-century Romantics, on the other hand, inspired in Bernstein interpretations that could be wildly undisciplined, most of all in his old age, when he developed a taste for ultra-slow tempos. But in the 20th-century repertoire (and Bernstein, following Koussevitzky’s lead, pro- grammed more modern music, much of it by American composers, than any other conduc- tor of his generation), he was consistently satisfy- ing. Even when he gave his ego full throttle- something that happened not infrequently in his later recordings of Mahler, who in his earlier days he had done more than anyone else to re- vive and popularize-the performances that re- sulted were often as exciting as they were over- wrought.
BERNSTEIN’S work as a composer was another matter. After West Side Story (1957), he made a deliberate decision to concentrate on conducting rather than compos- ing. It was a choice with which, according to Bur- ton, he was never fully at ease: To the walling up of a fruitful stream, to the dominance of the extrovert side of his person- ality over introspection, can perhaps be attrib- uted the increasing number of black de- pressions experienced by Bernstein from his forties onward, and the occasional impres- sion that he was not completely in touch with reality.
Bernstein’s despair must have been deepened by the knowledge that the quality as well as the quantity of his compositional output fell off sharply after West Side Story. "Lenny had a bad case of important-itis," his fellow composer Stephen Sondheim told Meryle Secrest. It was a canny diagnosis. From 1960 on, much of Bern- stein’s creative energy was poured into repeated attempts to write the Great American Opera. He tried out and discarded one ambitious libretto idea after another: Nabokov’s Lolita, Brecht’s The Exception and the Rule, Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth. But trying to produce a mas- terpiece through sheer force of will can leave a composer impotent. Only four of Bernstein’s post-West Side Story theatrical projects-Mass (1971), the ballet Dybbuk (1974), the musical comedy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (1976), and the opera A Quiet Place (1983)-made it to the stage, and all were failures, both aesthetic and commercial.
Harold Schonberg, who had a talent for get- ting under Bernstein’s skin, once said that he could have been the American Offenbach. This must have enraged a man whose greatest desire in later life was to write an opera about the Holo- caust. "You know what’s made me really dis- traught?" a drunken Bernstein asked at a party in Rome seven years before his death. "I am only going to be remembered as the man who wrote West Side Story."Judging by this remark, it would seem that Bernstein had come to share the view of those critics who dismissed his earlier music as trivial. They were wrong, and so was he. Although Bernstein never succeeded in becoming a great composer, he did manage to write a number of pieces that seem likely to endure.t To Bernstein, as to George Gershwin before him, the distinction between "popular" and "seri- ous" was one of complexity rather than style; also like Gershwin, he was a natural melodist, making it possible for him to shuttle between Broadway and Carnegie Hall with ease. As a young man, he took plenty of heat from snobbish critics (and from Koussevitzky, who loathed what he insisted on calling ‘jezz") over his ventures into musical comedy. But Aaron Copland, a composer-critic scarcely less shrewd than Virgil Thomson, de- clined to see them as a mistake. Writing in 1948, he went so far as to single out Bernstein as one of "the best we have to offer among the new genera- tion" of American composers: The most striking feature of Bernstein’s music is its immediacy of emotional appeal. Melodi- cally and harmonically it has a spontaneity and warmth that speak directly to an audience…. At its worst, Bernstein’s music is conductor’s music-eclectic in style and facile in inspira- tion. But at its best, it is music of vibrant rhyth- mic invention, of irresistible elan, often carry- ing with it a terrific dramatic punch. It is pos- sible that some form of stage music will prove to be Bernstein’s finest achievement.
This appraisal, made just five years after Bernstein’s first major premiere, was right in ev- ery particular. He was, indeed, at his best writing for the theater-though not, I think, in West Side * My own favorite Bernstein recordings, all now available on CD, are his 1959 performance with the New York Philhar- monic of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony (Sony SMK 47615); his 1966 performance with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, James King, and the Vienna Philharmonic of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (London 417 783-2LH); and a 1985 live perfor- mance with the New York Philharmonic of Copland’s Third Symphony (DGG 419 170-2GH). t Of Bernstein’s recordings of his own music, I particu- larly like Sony SMK 47530, which contains performances with the New York Philharmonic of Fancy Free, the On the Water- front suite, and the dance episodes from On the Town; DGG 415 964-2GH, which contains performances with the Israel Philharmonic of the Jeremiah and Age of Anxiety sympho- nies; and the complete performance of Candide on DGG 429 734-2GH2.54/COMMENTARY OCTOBER 1994 Story, a work whose manipulativeness is more ap- parent now that its music and libretto must stand on their own, divorced from the electric context of Jerome Robbins’s staging. But Fancy Free (1944) is at least as good as any of Copland’s own ballet scores, and On the Town (1944), Wonderful Town (1953), and Candide (1956) have long since established themselves as classics of American musical comedy. As for the concert works, the Jeremiah Symphony (1942), the Age of Anxiety Symphony (1949), the Serenade after Plato’s Sym- posium (1954), and Chichester Psalms (1965), all but the last written before Bernstein succumbed to "important-itis," combine open-hearted ro- manticism and polished craftsmanship to com- pelling effect.
This is by no means a universally accepted judgment. There are critics who still wince at the sound of Bernstein’s name, not least be- cause of his once-unfashionable commitment to tonality: All [musical] forms we have ever known- plainchant, motet, fugue, or sonata-have al- ways been conceived in tonality, that is, in the sense of a tonal magnetic center, with subsid- iary tonal relationships…. And the moment a composer tries to "abstract" musical tones by denying them their tonal implications, he has left the world of communication.
In the 60’s and 70’s, such views were the musical equivalent of preferring Adam Smith to Karl Marx. But now that the pendulum of taste has swung back from the hermetic austerity of serialism toward the directness and simplicity of tonality, Bernstein’s music may be about to come into its own.
HAT, then, does it all add up to? How good was Leonard Bernstein? And how will posterity remember him? It goes without saying that, in the end, he did not fulfill the extravagant expectations of his ad- mirers; nor did those of us who looked to him for validation finally get what we were looking for.
And yet anyone capable of composing Fancy Free, reviving the music of Mahler, and introducing millions of Americans to the joys of classical mu- sic deserves to be praised for what he did, not criticized for what he failed to do.
This does not mean that we should-or can- whitewash him. In this respect, Bernstein reminds me of Richard Wagner, a composer to whose music he was increasingly drawn in his later years.
"Some of us grow up more successfully than oth- ers," Bernstein said in 1985. "I have the feeling that Wagner never grew up in this sense, that he retained all his life that infantile feeling of being the center of the universe." Every person I have ever met who knew Leonard Bernstein at all well similarly describes him as a child who never grew up. As long as Wagner is remembered, it will be as a man in whom genius and beastliness were inseparably commingled; as long as Bernstein is remembered, it will be as an artist whose every achievement bore the scars of a deeply flawed character. It remains to be seen whether Bern- stein will be remembered as long as Wagner has been. But my guess is that he will not soon be forgotten.
1 Doubleday, 608 pp., $25.00.
2 Knopf, 496 pp., $30.00.
3 Bernstein’s definitive 1947 recording of the Copland Piano Sonata is currently available on CD as RCA Victor 09026-60915-2.
4 My own favorite Bernstein recordings, all now available on CD, are his 1959 performance with the New York Philharmonic of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony (Sony SMK 47615); his 1966 performance with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, James King, and the Vienna Philharmonic of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (London 417 783-2LH); and a 1985 live performance with the New York Philharmonic of Copland’s Third Symphony (DGG 419 170-2GH).
5 Of Bernstein’s recordings of his own music, I particularly like Sony SMK 47530, which contains performances with the New York Philharmonic of Fancy Free, the On the Waterfront suite, and the dance episodes from On the Town; DGG 415 964-2GH, which contains performances with the Israel Philharmonic of the Jeremiah and Age of Anxiety symphonies; and the complete performance of Candide on DGG 429 734-2GH2.