Remembering Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein (left) rehearses at Brandeis for the Festival of the Arts with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1952.

"A Quantum Coup"

In 1951, when Brandeis University was 3 years old, founding President Abram Sachar "dared a quantum coup," as he wrote in "Brandeis: A Host at Last," his memoir of the university's early years. Would it be presumptuous to invite composer Leonard Bernstein to join the Brandeis faculty?

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Leonard Bernstein talking to a student

What Bernstein Taught Brandeis

by Georgia Luikens, MA’10

Bernstein gave Brandeis access to the best of America's artistic landscape. For Bernstein, the festival was one big educational opportunity. For Brandeis, it ushered in a new era of dedication to the creative arts.

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Bernstein talking to two musicians

Learning from Bernstein the Conductor

by Neal Hampton, Associate Professor of the Practice of Music and Conductor, Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra

As I reflect on my own experience and continue to consider his enormous impact on the world of music, I cherish more and more the brief time I had to see this musical genius at work in person as a teacher and conductor.

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Leonard Bernstein receiving applause

How Bernstein Came to "MASS"

by Robert Duff, Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of Choral Programs

How did Leonard Bernstein, raised in the Jewish faith, come to write a monumental work based on the Roman Catholic Tridentine Mass?

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Leonard Bernstein with Cantor David Putterman and Max Helfman

Leonard Bernstein and the Music of Boston’s Congregation Mishkan Tefila

by Jonathan D. Sarna ’75, MA’75, University Professor and Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History

From a young age, Leonard Bernstein attended religious services at Congregation Mishkan Tefila, the first synagogue in Boston to align itself with Conservative Judaism. It introduced Leonard Bernstein to the power of great music.


Leonard Bernstein with arm around Seiji Ozawa

Three Maestros on a Summer Day

by Wolfgang Rueckner ’69, MA’74, PhD’78

On July 26, 1976, my young photography students and I learned that the Tanglewood Chorus were to perform that day at the adjacent Church on the Hill, in a celebration of Serge Koussevitzky's 102nd birthday. We decided that this would be a fun photography field trip, not knowing we were in for a wonderful surprise.

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“This is a moment of inquiry for the whole world: a moment when civilization looks at itself appraisingly, seeking a key to the future.”

Leonard Bernstein

On the occasion of the first Festival of the Arts, June 1952

Bernstein at Brandeis

Bernstein taking a break at rehearsal

Richie Silverman ’54 recalls his former professor, renowned composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, and their decades-long friendship that began in a classroom at Brandeis.

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