Tomorrow, August 25, marks American composer, conductor, and educator Leonard Bernstein’s birthday (he would be 94 years old!). Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was without a doubt one of the most significant and influential musical figures in American history. The Music Division is incredibly fortunate to hold the Leonard Bernstein Collection. One of the most heavily used collections in the Performing Arts Reading Room, Bernstein’s papers include his music manuscripts, correspondence, business papers, writings, scrapbooks, and photographs.
Today I would like to highlight the photography to be found within the collection (a whopping 17,439 photographs to be exact!). These photographs not only document Bernstein’s career but also his friendships and family life. About 100 of these photographs are digitized and available in the Library’s Performing Arts Encyclopedia. You’ll find, for example, photographs of a 27 year-old Bernstein conducting the New York City Symphony, Bernstein with his mentor and friend Aaron Copland, Bernstein’s wedding to his wife Felicia, and Bernstein with his daughter Jamie.
Today’s Pic of the Week features a 3 year-old Bernstein photographed with his parents, Samuel and Jennie Bernstein of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Here we catch a glimpse of Bernstein before his life-long musical journey commences (it would be another decade until his first piano recital). If you are intrigued and want to see more digitized materials from the Bernstein Collection, be sure to browse our online collection.