Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Used: Acceptable | Details
Sold by Murfbooks
Condition: Used: Acceptable
Comment: Item is in acceptable condition. Expect heavy wear on the cover and the inside of the book. The text is perfectly readable and usable. There is no condition below acceptable. Fast shipping. Free delivery confirmation with every order.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Leonard Bernstein Hardcover – April 1, 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
$7.87 $0.01

Ace the ACT.
Wiley Architecture, Construction, & Design Sale
Save up to 40% on select architecture, construction, and design guides during August. Learn more.
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Flamboyant composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), who was America's ambassador to the world of serious music for most of his jam-packed life, has long needed a sober, well-researched and encompassing biography, and this is it. There have been tactful hagiographies (John Gruen), malicious deconstructions (Joan Peyser) and ambivalent inside stories (Burton Bernstein); but Burton, a British TV producer who knew Bernstein well but was no acolyte, has created, with the aid of family archives, a wealth of interviews and an interested layperson's sound musical knowledge, a full-length study unlikely to be surpassed. It is in many ways a tragic story, not of genius unrecognized--if anything Bernstein was overpraised in his life, both as composer and conductor--but of a protean nature overcome by the demands of celebrity status and an overweening ego. From the start "Lenny" was a determinedly colorful character, insistent on the limelight, extravagant of gesture and emotion. Whether he could have become a great composer, rather than a highly talented musical entertainer whose best-remembered work remains his Broadway musicals, will never be known; for his whole professional life was an agonized tightrope walk between the frenzies of adulation that greeted his conducting and his guilty sense that he was betraying his creative gift by not spending more time in the workroom. And even the slim body of work he did create in his crowded life emerged more often than not from collaborations with lyricists and librettists, almost as if he was afraid to be alone with his muse. Bernstein was a man who owed much to his Jewish heritage (and Burton adroitly notes how much of his serious music had Jewish roots) and experienced a strong sense of guilt about his bisexuality, particularly after the death of his betrayed wife Felicia. But as the reader begins to wonder whether such anguish is inescapable for a non-heterosexual American artist, there is the example of Bernstein's friend Aaron Copland to ponder: a man secure in his gay sexuality who created what is arguably a much more lasting body of work and had a greater influence on the musical life of his time. The fact that a biography can raise such questions is a tribute to the tact and imagination that infuse this one. Bernstein owes Burton a posthumous hug for having told it straight, with affection but no blinkers. Photos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A sensitive, well-balanced account of the great American maestro's life and works. Biographer Burton, for over 20 years Bernstein's television and video director, neatly avoids most of the pitfalls that wait for a close friend who attempts an authoritative portrait within a very few years of the death of its subject. While generally admiring Bernstein the creative dynamo, Burton rarely gushes, unlike at least one other recent memoirist. Nor does he trash Bernstein for his emotional and sexual excesses; indeed, Burton deals with the intimate side of Bernstein's life, particularly his homosexuality and his guilt at the rift it caused between him and his wife, Felicia, during her last troubled years, with nonjudgmental candor and a lack of sensationalism. The core of the book is a straightforward chronological narrative. Into a lifetime scarcely longer than seven decades, Bernstein seemingly packed several lifetimes of composition (both ``serious'' and Broadway), conducting, and teaching. Even in a book of this length, the sheer amount of mental and physical activity described is hardly less exhausting to read about than it must have been to experience. Burton earns the reader's trust by declaring at the outset that the real Leonard Bernstein is to be found in his many recordings and videotaped performances; nonetheless, Burton unfailingly provides the context of each of Bernstein's own compositions (including ones left unfinished) and a survey of contemporaneous critical response (for instance, Mass, which Burton thinks is Bernstein's ``most original work'' from the point of view of musical form, was called ``magnificent'' and ``stupendous'' by certain leading critics, ``pretentious and thin'' by others). Burton would probably admit that the images of Bernstein the conductor and musical pedagogue are still so powerfully etched in our consciousness that an objective appraisal of Bernstein's own music is not yet possible. Simply the best of the Bernstein biographies so far. (First printing of 60,000; Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club selection; ad/promo) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 594 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (April 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385423454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385423458
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This bio skillfully covers Bernstein's background, his philosophy, his methods of viewing and performing music. Bernstein was a man of conflict, always wishing to compose (indeed, he wanted to be remembered not as a conductor, primarily, but as a composer) but knew he had to remain with conducting in order to earn his living. And Bernstein was a splendid composer .. I personally think his Candide and West Side Story are masterpieces without peer, and his orchestral works are incredibly daring and far sighted for their time. Bernstein, though a genius, was all too human. He struggled endlessly with his sexuality, yet remained entirely devoted to his wife and children. Burton thoroughly explores Bernstein's many friendships with those in the music world, the most touching being his involvements with Copland and Mitropoulous. Both recognized Bernstein's genius, and were also painfully aware of his inner conflicts and fragile ego, and strove to uplift and encourage him so that he might make his true mark in the arts. The photos in this book are splendid, and Burton's writing is crisp and engaging. You will come away from this book with a renewed respect and enthusiasm for Bernstein the man and the musician.
Comment 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It took me about 2 months to finish reading it, not because it wasn't a page-turner, but because it was a long book and also I'd been busy. It was actually a great page-turner. I could read on and on for 5-7 hours without a break.
Bernstein's personal letters to his friends and colleagues, including Aaron Copland, his thesis at Harvard, etc. were all very inspiring to read. There were quite a bit of poems he wrote also. The positive and negative sides of the great man were also well delivered without getting vulgar.
I really appreciated the author's knowledge about music and the classical music world and system.
The book makes you feel like you're living the life closely with the great man and gets you intellectually, musically, emotionally involved. You experience with him every success and failure Bernstein went through.
His talents were beyond human in some way, yet he was a man just like you and me. Sometimes his talents were greater than he as a man, and as a result the world occasionally saw him fall apart. The book is honest about his failures and misbehaviours without being accusatory. It makes you want to forgive the man for the wrongs he'd done. The burden he was carrying as genius was more than an ordinary man could bear.

The book also covers the Jewish culture, politics, world events, how Bernstein and his genius contributed to the world and American history, etc. in relations to his achievements.
There are enough interviews with his friends and family, reviews on Bernstein's works, letters etc. but the author uses his own narratives to tell us about the man, which is, I think, why this book is more solid and readable. Only, I wish there were more photographs. But oh well, you can't ask for everything.
Great, inspiring book. I might read it again.
Comment 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
This is the Bernstein bio that you'll read and re-read with continual pleasure. This book firmly places the great conductor in his time and his world, which is considerably different than the world of today. When Bernstein was alive, classical music was still important and a great deal of classical music was still being recorded. Today our classical music culture seems to have collapsed, at least in a commercial sense. The lunatic screech and drivel of hip-hop has taken over the music scene, and it may indeed be true we are getting what we deserve if we allow 2000 years of Western culture to disintegrate like a house of cards, but some of us can still appreciate the age of Bernstein as a golden age in terms of musical activity.

We can compare this well-balanced book with Peyser's bio, which is excessively simplistic due to Peyser's journalistic outlook. Journalists are forced to oversimplify their work because the average reader or viewer of journalism expects a dumbed-down story with a theme, a standard simple THEME that anyone can understand. In this sense, journalists create candy bars and Big Macs instead of serious literary cuisine. And maybe you prefer Hershey bars and hamburgers, okay? That's your privilege. But I don't like dumbed-down books, so I'll take Burton over Peyser any day.

Gay, gay, GAY! Lenny was GAY, all right? And of course we secretly long to know all the GAY DIRT, correct? So how much GAY DIRT is in the Burton book? Actually Burton is much more explicit than Peyser, but it really helps to know the gay code words. I asked a gay friend about the gay content in this book, and he returned it to me after he had used a red pen to underline lots of seemingly harmless words and phrases.
Read more ›
2 Comments 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I agree along with many that this is the definitive Bernstein biography. I have read it on and off for over a year now, and have gone back to particular sections not only to refresh my memory but to re-read Burton's fluid writing. An inspirational book about an all-around genius and the whirlwind tour of a life he lived. The book motivated me to delve into Berstein's life even further (quite costly y'know... with all the recordings, Norton Lectures, Young People's Concerts, various other video performances, writings, etc.)
Comment 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews