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Jamie Bernstein gets up close to a statue of her father, Leonard Bernstein, at Tanglewood. She has just released a book about growing up with the famous composer.

Daughter's Book Celebrates Legacy of Leonard Bernstein

By Stephen DanknerGuest Column
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It's hard to imagine the classical music world without Leonard Bernstein. His death, 28 years ago, left a void that will be very difficult, if not impossible, to fill. Yes, there are young, stellar conductors now on the scene who hold great promise – Ken-David Masur in Boston and the fiery Gustavo Dudamel in Los Angeles. Time will tell if they, or others, possess the potential of the mature Bernstein, who was blessed with unparalleled musical and communicative gifts as conductor, composer, pianist and mentor/lecturer - classical music’s, and America’s, emissary to the world.

There were three great composers who created and thus changed the course of early-to mid-20th century American classical music: George Gershwin (1898-1937,) Aaron Copland (1900-1990) and Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) – each treasured by music lovers then, now and forever. Gershwin and Copland are ingrained in the American psyche as populists. Time, and the music-loving public's fidelity have been good to all three. Bernstein, though, did more – and was more – than his two great predecessors.

Through his recordings (a staggering 826 in all), re-mastered videos and DVDs of the New York Philharmonic's "Young People's Concerts" and his Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard ("The Unanswered Question"), not to mention his own music, Bernstein the composer and teacher lives still. From "Candide" and "West Side Story" to the film score of "On the Waterfront," the three symphonies, “Chichester Psalms” and the operas "Trouble in Tahiti" and its sequel "A Quiet Place," Bernstein has bequeathed a far-reaching compositional legacy that ensures his immortality. And as long as Brahms and Mahler are listened to, Bernstein's legacy as interpreter also will survive.

Leonard Bernstein required and bestowed love through conducting, composition and teaching, which in his case were three manifestations of the same impulse. The drive to teach, yet to continually question, in essence, defines him. Bernstein was also a man who lived and worked in the dazzling klieg lights of our insatiable mass media culture. He needed it and thrived because of it, and it needed him.


Jamie Bernstein, the composer’s daughter and the eldest of his three children, has written a memoir about, as she puts it, "growing up Bernstein."

"Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein," unlike the many previous biographies of the great conductor/composer, presents an insider's perspective, and sheds light on the relationship she shared with him and her mother, Felicia, as her father's career and fame grew and blossomed over many years.

Jamie Bernstein, a writer, broadcaster and filmmaker, tells a story full of joy and some disappointments, but it is also a chronicle that seeks and finds eventual fulfillment as a custodian of her father's musical legacy. In this, the 100th anniversary of Bernstein's birth, her book offers an insightful re-evaluation of Leonard Bernstein, the greatest American musician of the 20th century. I would highly recommended it.

"Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein," by Jamie Bernstein. Harper Collins Publishers, 2018; $28.99.

 

 

 


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Shakespeare & Company Names Interim Director of Center For Actor Training

LENOX, Mass. — Shakespeare & Company recently appointed Susan Dibble as interim director for the company's Center for Actor Training.

Dibble, a founding member of Shakespeare & Company, is an educator and artist. Her movement work was seen on stage this past season in "Twelfth Night" and for the past four decades she has been faculty member for the training program, teaching at the Month Long Intensive, Summer Shakespeare Intensive (formerly the Summer Training Institute), and various workshops.
 
"We're truly thrilled to welcome Susan Dibble on board as interim director of training," said Artistic Director Allyn Burrows. "Susan has a keen eye on all that is exciting about the training program and the company's work: a vigilance toward the specificity of language and honesty in acting, a generosity of spirit, and a clarity of purpose on stage. She brings a depth of knowledge from within and a breadth of experience from elsewhere that will enrich the training on a personal and a professional level for all participants going forward."

Dibble is a choreographer, dancer and teacher. She graduated from SUNY College at Purchase with a B.F.A. in Dance in 1976. For the past 39 years, she has worked at Shakespeare & Company as a master teacher of movement and dance for actors, movement director and choreographer, at the same time teaching at a variety of universities including the NYU Tisch MFA in Acting Program. She joined the faculty of the Theater Arts Department at Brandeis University, where she is a full professor and teaches Movement for Actors, Modern Dance, Choreography, Clown, Mask, Period Styles, and Historical Dance. She has been on the faculty at Brandeis for 31 years and served as Theater Arts Department chair for eight years. Dibble received the 2006 Leonard Bernstein Festival of Creative Arts Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Arts at Brandeis.

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