Seeding a Generation of Music Lovers

Celebrating the Westchester Philharmonic one night, I found myself breaking bread with Jamie Bernstein, daughter of the late and great composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. Jamie is a narrator, writer and broadcaster, all of which reflect her lifetime devotion to music and her family legacy. We reminisced about the Young People’s concerts led by Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in the Sixties and Seventies. Jamie attended all of them…even rollicked backstage. I told her how when I was a kid, we took the Long Island Railroad from the Rockaway’s to Penn Station, then hopped on a subway up to Carnegie Hall…almost an hour and a half trek to get an injection of classical music that my mother had made a part of our cultural regimen. Although we twisted and turned a lot in our seats, we did get a lasting appreciation of music.

Although to his credit Leonard Bernstein made the Young People’s concerts a household name, they officially began as far back as 1914. These were expanded exponentially in 1924 under the baton of Ernest Schelling.  It was Bernstein, however, who grew the concerts to an audience of millions by having them televised from Lincoln Center and syndicated to 40 countries. Bernstein’s love of music, his theatrical style, his skill at translating the music into words, inspired a generation of music lovers. Remembering the Young People’s concerts made me think that the world needs another Bernstein and another generation of music lovers. Perhaps that’s Jamie Bernstein.

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