December 10, 2018

Library of Congress Releases Digitized Items From Leonard Bernstein’s Personal and Professional Archives Online, Over 3,700 Items Available

From the Library of Congress:

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, the Library of Congress has made available online—for the first time—musical manuscripts and scrapbooks from the legendary composer’s personal and professional archives housed in the nation’s library.

The public can now access for free more than 3,700 items, including photos, writings, correspondence, scripts, musical sketches, scrapbooks and audio recordings. This web presentation is a revealing snapshot of Bernstein’s extensive collection at the Library.

[Clip]

New online content includes materials on Bernstein’s involvement in the civil rights movement, his time as a student at Harvard and scripts for the “Ford Presents” and “Omnibus” programs.

Highlights

• “West Side Story” outlines, synopses and notes, including an early synopsis titled “Romeo and Juliet” in which the gangs pit Jews against Catholics as opposed to Anglos versus Hispanics;

• “West Side Story” audition notes, including Bernstein’s comments about Warren Beatty’s audition for the role of Riff (“Good voice – can’t open jaw – charming as hell – cleancut”);

• All of Bernstein’s musical sketches for “Candide,” including
“Glitter and Be Gay” (titled “Cunegonde’s Jewel Song”); “I Am Easily Assimilated” (originally titled “Old Lady’s Jewish Tango”) and “Overture”;

• Materials relating to the Black Panther Party fundraiser that resulted in the famous Tom Wolfe article in New York Magazine, “Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s”; also included are letters from Coretta Scott King, Gloria Steinem and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis;

• A sound recording of Bernstein’s sermon, “Hope in the Nuclear Age,” presented at the All Souls Unitarian Church, Jan. 27, 1985.

2018-04-10_12-16-15

The Bernstein Collection consists of an estimated 400,000 items, one of the largest and most varied in the Library’s Music Division. In addition to music and literary manuscripts, personal correspondence, audio and video recordings, fan mail, business papers, photographs and datebooks, there are unexpected items that range from passports and license plates to batons and the suit in which Bernstein conducted his New York Philharmonic debut in 1943. Also among these unusual items are Bernstein’s notes for a Holocaust opera (tentatively titled “Babel”) he was working on the year of his death; a manuscript for an unproduced circa 1941 ballet, “Conch Town” that included the music for what became “America” from “West Side Story”; and a seven-page, color-illustrated letter to his mother documenting a trip to Israel during the 1948 war.

The conductor’s collection is also one of the most heavily used in the Music Division. Among its researchers is Bernstein’s own daughter, who is working on a memoir. “It’s beyond gratifying to see that not only musicians and scholars can access these materials, but also students of all ages, and in fact virtually anyone on the planet with an internet connection,” said Jamie Bernstein. “The word I so often find myself using to describe my father is not a word he knew in his lifetime: broadband. The Bernstein collection has this same broadband quality.”

In addition to the expanded website, the Library will celebrate the Bernstein centennial with a spring mini-fest of activities May 12-19 drawn from the richness of the collection. On Friday, May 18, the Library will present an evening of excerpts from three of Bernstein’s major stage works—the musical “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” and the operas “Trouble in Tahiti” and “A Quiet Place”—and other extraordinary rarities from the Library’s collection. On Saturday, May 19, rarely seen materials will be on display, providing an illuminating portrait of the man and the artist and informal behind-the-scenes presentations and performances will uncover fascinating details about “West Side Story,” “Candide” and “On the Town.” The celebration also includes film screenings, which include “On the Waterfront,” a National Film Registry classic scored by Bernstein.

Additional Resources

Leonard Bernstein Timeline 1918-1990 (via LOC)
“1918 to 1942. 1918 Born August 25, Lawrence, Massachusetts, first child of Samuel and Jennie Bernstein.”

Bernstein Photo Gallery (via LOC)
“Photographs of Leonard Bernstein, family, friends, and acquaintances.”

Resources For Teachers: The Leonard Bernstein Collection, ca. 1920-1989 (via LOC)

 

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

Share