Bernstein Piano Hits the Road

Mike Lovett

Leonard Bernstein’s childhood piano, given to Brandeis in 2002, usually sits sedately in the Slosberg Music Center lobby.

For the next couple of years, though, the dark-brown upright on which the promising young Bernstein lad practiced his music lessons will have a new address: “on the town.”

The piano is on loan to a traveling exhibition titled “Leonard Bernstein at 100,” organized by the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles to celebrate the centenary of the birth — on Aug. 25, 1918 — of the renowned composer, conductor and one-time member of the Brandeis music faculty.

Along with the piano, the Bernstein exhibition includes more than 150 photographs, personal items, scores, costumes and films. Special interactive features give visitors the chance to belt out a “West Side Story” song or conduct the New York Philharmonic.

The exhibition is currently at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, D.C. In December, it opens at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. It will also visit Los Angeles; Boston; Tulsa; Chicago; and Portland, Oregon, where in January 2020 the piano will bid its peripatetic ways farewell and head back home to Waltham.

Something’s coming, music fans. Something good.

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