Leonard Bernstein

Featured Work

MASS (1971)

When Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis asked Bernstein to compose a piece for the 1971 inauguration of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., he was eager to honor the occasion with a new, large-scale work because he knew he had always wanted "to compose a service of one sort or another." The son of Russian-Jewish parents, a social liberal, and lifelong activist, Bernstein made a surprising choice: the Roman Catholic Mass. But instead of a straightforward, purely musical setting of the Latin liturgy, he created a broadly eclectic theatrical event by placing the 400-year-old religious rite into a tense, dramatic dialog with music and lyrics of the 20th century vernacular, using this dialectic to explore the crisis in faith and cultural breakdown of the post-Kennedy era.

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The Leonard Bernstein Office Mission

The Leonard Bernstein Office (LBO) sustains and strengthens Leonard Bernstein’s legacy by inspiring global engagement with his work as a composer, conductor, educator, and humanitarian. Through licensing, promotion, music editing, and publishing, the LBO strives to communicate his lifelong devotion to the transformative power and joy of music.

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Thus Spake Leonard Bernstein:

"In music, we are trapped in time. Each note is gone as soon as it is sounded and it can never be recontemplated or heard again in that particular instance of rightness. It is always too late for a second look."

Leonard Bernstein, 1955
"The Art of Conducting"

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