From School Library Journal
Adult/High School—The current student generation has never witnessed Leonard Bernstein's creative genius and masterful interpretations firsthand, but this tribute could stir many to seek out CDs, DVDs, and the Internet to hear and watch a master in action. As the title indicates, this is not a comprehensive biography; it focuses on Bernstein's Philharmonic years, his most productive. An introduction by Haws and a foreword by Burton Bernstein are followed by a succession of chapters, each written by a different author. These essayists, ranging from a music critic to an American historian, both reveal and explore a plethora of topics, including life in New York City during these years, Bernstein's music, his use of the relatively new medium of television to entertain and instruct, and his social activism. "A Brother's Recollection" follows, and it is this fusion of the professional and personal that makes this work stand out among other Bernstein biographies. It is also a visual treasure trove, chock-full of black-and-white photographs testifying to Bernstein's intensity, his devotion to his work, his joie de vivre, and his belief that the universality of music could make the world a better place. Those already familiar with Bernstein may discover an unknown aspect of his career or personality in this work. Others will be introduced to an innovative change agent, an indefatigable music advocate, and a true American Master, all personified in this "modern Renaissance man."—Dori DeSpain, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA
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*Starred Review* Had it with biographies that dish and dis their subjects? Then this is definitely your book. Alright, it isn’t a full life story, neither a birth-to-death record nor a portrait of the “whole person.” It’s a set of articles on Bernstein’s achievements from 1943, when he last-minute-substitute-conducted the New York Philharmonic in a national broadcast, to 1976, the nation’s bicentenary and New York’s darkest hour when the Ford administration declined to rescue it from bankruptcy. Each piece is by an author who knows well whereof he writes and openly admires, even adores, Bernstein. Broadcaster-conductor Bill McLaughlin discusses Bernstein as conductor, with the maestro’s performance scores and DVDs before him. Music historian Carol J. Oja incisively surveys Bernstein’s Broadway shows. Composer John Adams tells what Bernstein has meant to him, from his boyhood hearing of Bernstein’s famous, nationally televised young people’s concerts to learning from Bernstein what it was to be an American composer. Others treat Bernstein as humanitarian and social activist, as music educator, as touring cultural diplomat, and as director of a great orchestra. Music lovers may award best-of-show to James Keller’s piece on Bernstein as interpreter and champion of Mahler. Interspersed with this wealth of well-considered commentary are the smart and affectionate recollections of Burton Bernstein, concluding with his eulogy for “my brother, Lenny.” All this, and scads of pictures, too! A flat-out wonderful book. --Ray Olson