[78-L] Lenny

Don Cox doncox at enterprise.net
Mon Jul 8 01:40:38 PDT 2013

On 07/07/2013, DAVID BURNHAM wrote:

> I'm impressed by all of the vitriol directed at Bernstein here! It is
> so easy to find examples of composers stealing from other composers or
> even from themselves; Bach and Handel used their own music over and
> over, (without records or radio nobody would likely notice),
> Stravinsky, Brahms, Copland, Tchaikovsky, etc. etc. borrowed themes
> from others. The first movement of Weingartner's 6th symphony is a
> direct steal of the third movement of Schubert's 8th Symphony,
> (Unfinished), but if these artisans are able to expertly rework the
> material into something fresh, I have no problem with that. How many
> hear Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu without thinking of "I'm always
> chasing rainbows"? I would probably never say that Bernstein is my
> favourite conductor or my favourite interpreter of any composer but I
> think as a music lover I would be poorer without his interpretations
> of Haydn, Mahler, Ives, Copland, Shostakovitch, Sibelius, Stravinsky,
> etc.
>  Sometimes his emoting is over the top, sometimes his ego gets
> between the music and the listener, but I've never had a problem
> suffering a justified ego. If you've listened to his Harvard Lectures,
> you can appreciate the depth of his understanding of the music he is
> presenting. Other conductors, such as Celibidache, seem to believe
> that they know the music much better than the composer himself did, (I
> don't know of Celibidache ever conducting the music of a female
> composer), but I've never gotten that feeling from Bernstein; I've
> always felt he's doing his best to delve into the soul of the composer
> to find details which, perhaps, were never revealed before.
> While Rhapsody in Blue has jazz elements, I wouldn't really call it
> jazz; as far as I know, the entire piece is scored, there are no
> ad-libbed solos, and I wouldn't think that Bernstein has the same jazz
> skills as, say, Andre Previn, (who conducts much of the same
> repertoire as Bernstein, has done an excellent Gershwin recording of
> the 3 biggies, as well as items that Bernstein never touched such as
> Elgar and Vaughan-Williams Symphonies).

Well put.

I don't think anyone conducted Copland better than Bernstein, and his
versions of his own West Side Story Dances and Candide overture are
classic recordings which are not likely to be equalled.

And the great thing about his NYPO recordings is that everyone seems to
be having a good time performing good music. Some conductors make the
whole business seem like a punishment.

I think the influence of Mahler spoiled him as a composer. He would have
done better to follow Bizet, Chabrier and Milhaud.

Don Cox
doncox at enterprise.net

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