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Leonard Bernstein: Omnibus - The Historic TV Broadcasts

4.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Hosted by Alastair Cooke, Omnibus was a monumental series, featuring diverse live broadcasts on science, the arts and the humanities. This historic collection includes seven episodes featuring lectures, performances and master classes from the legendary conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein. Includes: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (1954), The World of Jazz (1955), The Art of Conducting (1955), American Musical Comedy (1956), Introduction to Modern Music (1957), The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach (1957) and What Makes Opera Grand? (1958).

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Leonard Bernstein, Carol Burnett, Benny Goodman, Hans Conried, Alistair Cooke
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English (PCM Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: E1 Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 26, 2010
  • Run Time: 449 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002OVB9Z8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,413 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Leonard Bernstein: Omnibus - The Historic TV Broadcasts" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Movie Man VINE VOICE on January 28, 2010
"Omnibus" ran on ABC, CBS, and NBC at various times from 1952 to 1961. The program showcased both established stars and rising talent from the worlds of music, dance, theater, and opera. Long a staple of Sunday afternoon programming, "Omnibus" eventually moved to other time slots and networks when the value of Sunday real estate rose with the broadcasting of professional football.
"Omnibus: Leonard Bernstein" is a four-disc set containing seven shows aired between 1954 and 1958 that feature Mr. Bernstein's enthusiastic lecture/performances about classical and other forms of music. Bernstein was equally at home with classical music and musical theater. He wrote the scores for "West Side Story" and "On the Town" and was the longtime conductor of the New York Philharmonic.
His "Omnibus" debut was "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony" (broadcast live on CBS, November 14, 1954). Other shows include "The World of Jazz," "American Musical Comedy," "Introduction to Modern Music," "The Music of J.S. Bach," "The Art of Conducting," and "What Makes Opera Grand?" The shows are the kind of fare that today can only be seen on PBS. The TV audience of millions were both entertained and educated by Bernstein's spirited programs. Clearly, he loved his subjects and his energy and passion come through, even in black and white on the small screen. Extras include a bonus performance of Handel's "Messiah" and a 24-page booklet with contributions written by music critic John Rockwell.
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Omnibus was a TV series that debuted in 1952, was hosted by Alistair Cooke, and was mostly about the arts. You might see an original play or a dance performance, a discussion of architecture, or some comedy. Conductor Leonard Bernstein appeared many times over the years. This collection features six of his talks about music and a performance of Handel's Messiah.

Bernstein's first appearance on the show was in 1954 with a fascinating half hour on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. In it, Bernstein explores Beethoven's notebooks to discover what changes Beethoven made to his most famous composition before he decided it was ready for prime time. It's really quite interesting to hear an orchestra play what were early drafts of the Fifth.

It's just as interesting to see this young, dark-haired Bernstein, already a star, athletically urging the orchestra on, singing (a good singing voice was one of the few musical gifts the Maestro did not possess), playing the piano and organ, conducting, even sneaking a cigarette now and then. His manner is professorial and enthusiastic, an engaging combination. He seems to genuinely want to share what he loves about music, and although he indulges in a bit of showing off now and then, it never comes off as condescending.

As someone who knows next to nothing about the study of music, I found this set educational, but not always in the way Bernstein intended. I learned a lot from the Beethoven episode, and the shows about Bach and jazz. Sometimes we end up learning more about Bernstein's preferences than anything else. In the show about opera, he contrasts operatic scenes from La Boheme with the same scenes, but done as theater, without music.
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I bought these for my college music appreciation class. While dated, the information and energy cannot be missed. Bernstein is one of a kind and lives on in his passion to teach and guide young people in understanding music.
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Whoever is interested in Leonard Bernstein as music director, or just as human being, will find this DVD set extremely enjoyable.
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I remember these broadcasts from my childhood. Fascinating, informative, and accessible. The one on jazz is especially meaningful to me because it unlocked this genre of music which was a complete mystery before. The quality and content is undimmed by time. I'm enjoying them all over again! And still learning about music from one of the top musicians of the age--what a gift to have a man who deeply understands music share it with those of us who can only listen.
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By Karlius on November 9, 2015
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The Omnibus programs in the 1950's (I was born in '48) either caused or tapped into my love of the arts and music but I remember them fondly. These Bernstein ones particularly impress me, and I am looking forward to others. The reproduction is excellent--Lenny comes brilliantly through the b/w program full of animation and color generated by the Maestro.

I really enjoyed the one on conducting, which I had not seen, since I have not ever really studied the topic.
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One of the all-time greats in the music world - not only in classical music and teaching to TV audience many years ago - but in a favorite Broadway show
"West Side Story" - an amazing talent.
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Look, I think I've already died and gone to Heaven with Lenny, watching these dvds. The Maestro's analysis of The St Matthew Passion bought me to tears. I can't wait for the concert DVD of Candide, and so thankful that we had this brilliant man on this earth, to present the Joy of Music in all it's forms to the world.

I would also like to highly recommend the DVD "Bernstein conducts Bernstein", which includes a fabulous documentary, "Teachers and Teaching" featuring the Maestro reminiscing, instructing, playing(so joyously the Ravel piano concerto), as well as beautiful tributes from other musicians. Superb viewing. Can't wait till I get The Young People's Concerts and so much more.
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