Leonard Bernstein

Bernstein studied at Harvard and the Curtis Institute and was a protégé of Serge Koussevitzky. In 1944 he made his reputation as a conductor when he stepped in when Bruno Walter was ill. Thereafter he was associated particularly with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philarmonic, soon achieving an international reputation. During his tenure the New York Philharmonic flourished as never before. A gifted pianist, he often performed simultaneously as soloist and conductor. Bernstein is also recognized for his work in education while with the New York Philharmonic, in particular his "Young People's Concerts".

At the same time, he pursued a career as a composer, cutting across the boundaries between high and popular culture in his mixing of Mahler and Broadway, Copland and Bach. His theater works are mostly in the Broadway manner, and they include: the ballet Fancy Free and the musicals Candide  and West Side Story. His more ambitious works, many of them couched in a richly chromatic, intense post-Mahlerian idiom, often have a religious inspiration, for example the 'Jeremiah' Symphony with mezzo, Kaddish, with soloists and choirs and the theater piece Mass.