“Leonard Bernstein is having the last laugh, the conductor Leon Botstein said recently from the stage of Carnegie Hall,” writes Anthony Tommasini in Saturday’s (10/21) New York Times. “Mr. Botstein was at Carnegie to lead his American Symphony Orchestra in Bernstein’s ‘Kaddish’ Symphony, one of the ambitious concert works that earned him much snobbish criticism in his lifetime. But Mr. Botstein argued that these pieces, including three symphonies, have been steadily gaining respect and even entering the standard repertory. Though I love these scores, I wouldn’t go that far … International celebrations of what would have been Bernstein’s 100th birthday in August … include … the New York Philharmonic’s three-week celebration of its beloved onetime music director, which starts on Wednesday…. The Symphony No. 1, ‘Jeremiah,’ completed in 1942 when he was just 24, was the best received of the three [at its world premiere]…. Bernstein took a risky leap with his Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Anxiety,’ a de facto piano concerto with a blazingly difficult solo part, written in 1949 (and revised in 1965)…. The ‘Kaddish’ Symphony remains the most debated of the three…. I was riveted by the performance Mr. Botstein led at Carnegie Hall.” Read Leon Botstein’s assessment of Bernstein in the latest issue of Symphony magazine.  

Posted October 24, 2017

Pictured: Leonard Bernstein at work, 1955. Photo by Al Ravenna, courtesy of the Library of Congress / Leonard Bernstein Office