Leonard Bernstein, the legendary composer, pianist, conductor and all-around great man of American music, would have been 100 years old in 2018. There will be thousands of events around the world this year to commemorate the life and career of this son of Ukrainian Jews as a part of #Bernsteinat100.
The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia has an exhibit “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music.” The Library of Congress has made more than 3,700 items into a free online archive including letters, photographs, audio recordings and other material from its vast Leonard Bernstein Collection.
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So, I thought: What do we have about Leonard Bernstein in our free online Davidson Digital Archives? Quite a bit, it seems. There are more than 700 entries for Leonard Bernstein, most of which relate to the composer. He was first mentioned in the Sept. 9, 1943, issue of the JN in an article that noted the 25-year-old Bernstein was appointed assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic.
It appears that Bernstein first came to Detroit in September and October 1944 when he was the guest conductor for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on WWJ Radio. I also found an item in the “Women — Social and Personal” page of the May 11, 1945, issue of the JN citing Mr. and Mrs. Herman Osnos, Mr. and Mrs. Max Osnos, and Bernard Osnos for hosting a cocktail party to honor Bernstein at the Statler Hotel. The April 12, 1946, issue of the Jewish Chronicle had a nice photo and story about the young Bernstein, who appeared at the Jewish Community Center’s annual concert the next day where his Clarinet Sonata debuted for the first time.
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In short, I barely read through the first mentions of Leonard Bernstein in 1943 through 1946 and he was already a familiar figure in Detroit. He would make many trips to the city over the next 40 years.
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.