US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

Born Aug. 25: Leonard Bernstein

August 25, 2015 03:30 AM

  • A 34¢ commemorative stamp honoring conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein was issued July 10, 2001, in New York City.

Composer, conductor, teacher and television personality Leonard Bernstein was born Aug. 25, 1918, in Lawrence, Mass.

Bernstein studied music at Harvard, graduating cum laude in 1939, and studied conducting at the Berkshire Music Center in Massachusetts and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pa.

In 1940 he completed work on his first symphony, Jeremiah. He was named assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1943, and later that same year he filled in for an ailing Bruno Walter, conducting the orchestra in a nationally broadcast Carnegie Hall concert.

Bernstein became music director of the New York City Symphony, and in 1958 was appointed music director of the New York Philharmonic.

The year before saw the Broadway premiere of West Side Story, which Bernstein composed in collaboration with Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim, and choreographer Jerome Robbins.

Bernstein became a familiar figure to Americans by using television to introduce them to classical music, including the popular CBS series, Young People’s Concerts.

He was a prolific composer whose many works include his Mass, the musical On the Town, and the comic operetta Candide.

Bernstein died in 1990. A 34¢ stamp honoring him was issued July 10, 2001. It features a black-and-white photograph of Bernstein taken by Don Hunstein in 1968.