(1918 - 1990)
Leonard Bernstein was an American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist.
He was among the first American born and educated conductors to recieve worldwide recognition and fame. The New York Times said he was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history."
Although his fame emmanated from a long tenure as the music director of the New York Philharmonic orchestra and from his conducting of concerts with most of the world's leading orchestras, it was from his music for the show "West Side Story", and "Candide" that he is particularly recognised.
His music from the shows "Wonderful Town", "On the Town" and his own Mass brought added world wide fame.
Leonard Bernstein was also the first conductor to give television lectures on classical music, that also helped to make him a household name. He was also a skilled pianist and often conducted while performing as a soloist playing piano concertos.
He was a prolific composer penning symphonies, ballet music, operas, chamber music, pieces for the piano, other orchestral and choral works, but nothing he did achieved the runaway success of "West Side Story"- the classic Romeo & Juliet story moved into New York's West side.
In the seventies he recorded "Carmen" and in the eighties he recorded Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" and Puccini's "La Boheme".
While not particularly categorised as an opera conductor- his contribution to music and his semi opera "Candide" well qualifies him to be remembered for his extraordinary contribution to music.