New book on Leonard Bernstein

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Lance
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New book on Leonard Bernstein

Post by Lance » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:37 pm

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One review: "A gossip-filled memoir of life with a musical superstar.In his debut book, music editor and arranger Harmon recounts in vivid detail four exhausting, exhilarating years as assistant to the mercurial maestro Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). At the age of 30, the author was a clerk at a music library when he answered an advertisement to work for a "world-class" musician. The applicant, the ad noted, "must read music, be free to travel," and "possess finely-honed organizational abilities." In the course of a three-hour interview, Harmon learned that the musician was Bernstein (called LB throughout the book), who was embarking on a strenuous schedule of performances around the world. The author was not sure he had the stamina for the job, which involved handling phone calls, mail, and appointments; packing and unpacking scores of suitcases for every trip; taking notes during rehearsals and performances; and—a task that proved especially challenging—making sure LB, infamous for his "celebrated libido" and drunken rants, did not generate negative publicity. Despite some reservations about his capabilities, in January 1982, Harmon set off with Bernstein and his entourage to Indiana University for a six-week residency, during which the composer began work on an opera. LB was a handful: demanding, impatient, and given to "bouts of fury and bratty behavior," which Harmon attributed to his enduring grief over his wife's death, in 1978. That behavior was exacerbated by heavy drinking and use of Dexedrine, fueling "drug-induced mania" followed by overwhelming depression. Drawing on his daybook, Harmon gives intimate accounts of LB's performances, teaching, creative process, and uncompromising standards—in the midst of a "three-ring circus" peopled by a large and sometimes-divisive cast of characters. Most troubling to Harmon was LB's imperious, "blatantly self-serving" manager, who wore Harmon down with cruel bullying. Exhaustion and depression eventually led Harmon to seek psychiatric help, though he admits that his intimacy with LB's musicianship gave him "a remarkable education." An affectionate portrait of an eminent musician who was driven by demons." — Kirkus Reviews


About the author: "Charlie Harmon is a music editor and arranger. From 1989 to 1999 he was the music editor for the estate of Leonard Bernstein, editing the first publications of full scores of West Side Story and Candide, and piano-vocals of On the Town and Wonderful Town, as well as new editions of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and Mass (all music by Leonard Bernstein). He has also worked in the orchestra libraries of the New York Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Now a freelance editor, he lives in Florida."


All that should be enough to warrant giving this book a look. I've enjoyed reading thus far.
Lance G. Hill
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maestrob
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Re: New book on Leonard Bernstein

Post by maestrob » Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:23 am

Bernstein was a handful, that's for sure. I didn't know about the Dexedrine, but I'm not surprised. A great man, no doubt. Thanks for pointing to this, Lance!

THEHORN
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Re: New book on Leonard Bernstein

Post by THEHORN » Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:48 pm

This is not only interesting but a weird co-incidence ! I once answer an ad to be assistant to a world class musician in the zNY times around 1981 , and was called in for an interview with Bernstein's business manager Harry Kraut , and lo and behold I found out it was for being his assistant ! I didn't get the job of course . Wow !

Lance
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Re: New book on Leonard Bernstein

Post by Lance » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:14 pm

Well, on this one, you can count yourself lucky! It all sounds interesting but there are always two sides to every coin.
THEHORN wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:48 pm
This is not only interesting but a weird co-incidence ! I once answer an ad to be assistant to a world class musician in the zNY times around 1981 , and was called in for an interview with Bernstein's business manager Harry Kraut , and lo and behold I found out it was for being his assistant ! I didn't get the job of course . Wow !
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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