For a single day in August, hundreds of music organizations around the world celebrated what would have been Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, August 25. In Massachusetts, where Bernstein was born, Governor Charles D. Baker issued a proclamation declaring August 25 Leonard Bernstein Day, and the state’s House and Senate issued a joint resolution commemorating the Tanglewood Music Center and celebrating Bernstein’s one hundredth birthday. And in perhaps the ultimate modern-day popular tribute, he got his own Google doodle.
Tanglewood—where Bernstein was a member of the Tanglewood Music Center’s first class in 1940, and conducted his final concert, in 1990—pulled out all the stops for its Bernstein Centennial Celebration. Musicians included cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Midori, baritone Thomas Hampson, soprano Nadine Sierra, and many others, hosted by Audra McDonald. Conductors included Boston Symphony Orchestra Music Director Andris Nelsons, Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart, Boston Pops Conductor Laureate John Williams, and San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. The program’s first half focused on Bernstein as composer, while the second half spotlighted Mahler and Copland works associated with him, as well as a new piece by John Williams written to commemorate the occasion.
All three Bernstein children—Jamie Bernstein, Alexander Bernstein, and Nina Bernstein Simmons—were in attendance. Hollywood director Steven Spielberg was there, and so was actor Bradley Cooper, who earlier this year was announced as the star of one of two upcoming Lenny biopics.