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Delivered in 1973, the talks were transcribed for a book, but in it Bernstein insists "The pages that follow were written not to be read, but listened to," really an endorsement of the video edition. The talks are, in fact, performances. Television was always kind to Bernstein; he had magnetism and knew how to use it. To illustrate various points in his analyses, he plays the piano frequently, sings occasionally, and conducts significant works of key composers: Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, Wagner, Ravel, Debussy, Ives, Mahler, and Stravinsky.
Bernstein traces the development of music from its origins to the 20th-century struggle between tonality (championed notably by Stravinsky) and atonalism (represented mainly by Schoenberg). The last two talks, devoted to these composers, are particularly enlightening, but all six are outstanding. He argues persuasively that humans are born with an ability to grasp musical forms, and that rules of musical syntax are rooted in nature--in mathematically measurable relations between tones and overtones.
These talks are a key document. They coincide chronologically, as cause and/or symptom, with the movement of America's leading composers back from Schoenbergian forms toward a tonal orientation. Bernstein predicts and promotes this movement, which is still in progress. He is clearly an advocate of tonality, but he discusses atonal music with sympathy and understanding. --Joe McLellan
Over forty years ago, together, my mother and I watched this series of lectures neither of us having much idea of their content but captivated none the less! Read morePublished 4 months ago by still searching
Twice too damaged to retain, so I gave up on it. A charming, but not really very deep set of talks trying to demonstrate the allegedly deep connection between linguistics and music... Read morePublished 5 months ago by J. Alexander Bodkin
Although it was tres academique, Lenny always pops any pomposity but at the same time gives erudite and detailed explanations of his subject. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Anne Suttor
just that what I expected. And in perfect quality. To be recommended to all fans of Leonard Bernstein and his ability to explain music.Published 11 months ago by Werner Latal
The guy is smart, but really like to hear himself talk. A glass of wine will help you get through the lecture.Published 13 months ago by Brad Millman
Be aware that the quality of the video on these DVDs is limited. The color is washed out and the cameras are never quite in focus. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Eric W. Volck