Leonard Bernstein: Notes from a Friend

Schuyler Chapin, Author
Schuyler Chapin, Author Walker & Company $27 (196p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1216-5
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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Chapin knew the late conductor for more than 30 years, first as head of Columbia Records' classical music division and later as general manager of the Metropolitan Opera. These positions gave him vantage points from which he could observe the effervescent composer-conductor in action, in his typical combination of lovability and impossibility. We see Bernstein in London, New York City, Israel and Vienna, filming TV movies, making his famous Omnibus appearances, molding sometimes recalcitrant orchestras into star ensembles--and always partying through the night. Chapin has written a warm, engaging and modest memoir, with plenty of anecdotes; he doesn't tell us much we didn't already know about Lenny, but he gives a solid sense of the demanding hard work and dedication that went into creating the music, and the educational ventures, that brought the popular musician and maestro so much adulation. The major book on Bernstein has yet to be written, but in the meantime this is a valuable series of footnotes to an extraordinary life. (Oct.)
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