Some liked it a lot. Some didn’t. I am talking about the movie Maestro, an intimate version of the life of Leonard Bernstein, legendary conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and “bad boy “of the music world. Many of his fans were disappointed that the movie was more about his love life than his music, even though there was a lot of brilliant music in the film, to be sure. Personally, I was disappointed that there was an omission of his work in music education, although he is well known for his creative leadership of the Young People’s Concerts at Carnegie Hall, which he began in 1958 and continued well after his tenure as Conductor. Actually, Young People’s Concerts started in 1924 long before Bernstein took the helm at New York Philharmonic. His creative leadership of, and dedication to, this program was one of the defining moments of his career. He produced 62 of them and introduced them on TV to the world’s children participate.

For me, the Young People’s Concerts were a remembrance of things passed. In the ‘40s, long before Bernstein tenured, my mother Betty, a teacher, thought this series should be part of my education. On Saturday mornings, we would get up early, take the Long Island Railroad from Far Rockaway to Penn Station, and then walk to Carnegie Hall. My brother and I of course were exhausted by the time we got to the concert. Sometimes we listened to the music and sometimes we fell asleep. However, to this day, I remember how awesome it was to be in that concert hall with other little kids in that glorious space listening to music.

In later years, under Bernstein‘s baton, the concerts were televised by CBS and available to children everywhere without the tedious ride on the Long Island Railroad. Everyone who grew up in New York has a Leonard Bernstein story. Many of them are about his love life, as in the film; mine was about learning to appreciate music.