Exploring the Important Composer Before Bradley Cooper’s Film
Leonard Bernstein is one of the most important and influential composers in history, and one of the first American conductors to gain international recognition. Besides that, Bernstein was also a conductor, pianist, music teacher and author. He composed the music of the years 1944 On the city1950s Peter Pan1953 wonderful time, and 1957 West Side Story (with Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins), among many other musicals and compositions. Bernstein has won 16 Grammy Awards, seven Emmy Awards and two Tony Awards, and received the Kennedy Center Honor.
Now bradley cooper is set to play the legendary composer in the upcoming biopic Maestro. Carey Mulligan stars as Bernstein’s wife, Felicia Montealegre, and Cooper also directs Maestrohis first directorial effort since the massive success of another music-centric film, A star is born. Cooper was in a battle for Bernstein’s musical rights with Jake Gyllenhaal’s Bernstein Project, The American. Cooper and Maestro won that battle and the film went into production early this year, with Cooper also co-writing the screenplay with Spotlight on Josh Singer. Maestro is set to debut on Netflix in 2023, and as the image above indicates, it looks like Cooper will fully inhabit the musician’s life, becoming unrecognizable in the process.
Let’s take a look at the epic life and career of Bradley Cooper’s inspiration MaestroLeonard Bernstein.
A Glimpse into the Life of Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1918. In Bernstein’s New York Times obituary, music critic Donal Henahan called Bernstein “one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history. “. Growing up as the son of a beauty products employee, his father Samuel wanted Leonard to take over the family business. But Leonard was meant for more. In fact, he became the youngest to be named conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 40.
He conducted the orchestra for a decade, and rumor has it that at the time the Philharmonie had (or may still have) a clause in its conductors’ contracts prohibiting them from consuming iced tea at the work. Legend has it that it was because Bernstein continuously consumed “ice tea” at work. Only Bernstein’s iced tea was really whiskey. Although this rumor cannot be confirmed, according to a career musician who has toured several orchestras, it is an oft-told story.
Bernstein could have stuck to one area and been very successful, but he preferred to keep busy. He conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra while composing musicals, working on music for ballets, recording television programs that educated audiences about music, and performing the finest, most complex and the most complicated. He was the man of the Renaissance in American music of the early and mid-twentieth century.
The youth of Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein’s parents, Samuel and Jennie, were Ukrainian Jews who emigrated to the United States as children. Leonard’s only exposure to early music was through the family radio. When he was 10, his aunt Clara sent his piano home amid his divorce proceedings. When he saw the piano, he told his mother he wanted to take lessons; his father refused to pay them, as he did not want to encourage his son to pursue a career in music. Leonard began to teach himself piano and music theory instead. During the summers, the family visited their vacation home in Sharon, Massachusetts, where Leonard convinced all the kids to help put on shows like Carmen and The Penzance Pirates. As a teenager, he played entire operas and symphonies by Beethoven.
Eventually, his father relented and took Leonard to see his first symphony orchestra, the Boston Pops, when he was a teenager.
At that time, Leonard was a prodigy. In 1932, the same year he first saw the Boston Pops, Leonard played the entire Brahms Rhapsody in G minor during his first public performance on the piano. In 1934 he performed a solo with the Boston Public School Orchestra and played Grig’s Piano Concerto in A minor.
Bernstein enrolled at Harvard University in 1935. He studied music and composed his first original musical compositions during his college years. He met bandleader Dimitri Mitropoulos in second grade, and his influence led Leonard to focus on the craft of bandleader. He graduated from Harvard in 1939 and enrolled at the Curtis Music Institute.
Early Career of Leonard Bernstein
When he graduated, Leonard Bernstein moved to New York and supported himself by teaching piano, playing piano for dance lessons at Carnegie Hall, and coaching singers. He also transcribed jazz and pop music into sheet music to make ends meet. In the spring of 1942, he performed his first published work, Sonata for clarinet and piano, at the Boston Institute of Modern Art.
On November 14, 1943, Bernstein got his first big break. He had just landed the position of assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. When that evening’s guest conductor caught the flu, Bernstein stepped in on short notice and without rehearsing and conducted America’s First Orchestra in a particularly difficult program that included the work of Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Miklos Rozsa and Robert Schumann.
Over the next few years, Bernstein conducted a number of orchestras as a guest, composed some of his early works, and generally built his resume for his big breakthrough in his career.
Career Highlights of Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein had such a long, unique, diverse and successful career that several accomplishments could be called a professional breakthrough. However, aside from his musical talent, one of the greatest moments in Bernstein’s life was when he was named Music Director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1958. At 40, Bernstein was the most young person to hold this position at the time. He held this position until 1969.
A year before Bernstein was appointed music director of the New York Philharmonic, one of his compositions debuted. Undoubtedly, his composition of the classic West Side Story remains the crowning achievement of Leonard Bernstein’s long and illustrious career. It debuted on Broadway in September 1957 and in the years since has proven to be an enduring and beloved musical that is still going strong to this day.
Leonard Bernstein’s legacy cemented by Bradley Cooper
Leonard Bernstein remains the Maestro, a nickname given to him later in his career. His style is the definitive sound of American music, creating some of the country’s first compositions to gain international recognition. His musicals and instrumental pieces continue to come alive. Bernstein has composed music for symphony orchestras, small ensembles, Broadway, films, ballets and operas. His compositions, at their core, carry messages of hope and understanding that until recently were a fairly unique American trait. Leonard Bernstein died in 1990 at the age of 72. A long-time smoker, he died of cardiac arrest following pulmonary failure.
It’s still unclear how much of Bernstein’s life and career will be explored in Bradley Cooper’s film, but it looks like Cooper will explore Bernstein’s homosexuality, as stills show him kissing Matt Bomer in the movie (the footage also shows a completely unrecognizable Cooper as an older Bernstein). Regardless of his take on the biopic, it’s obvious he was an American legend who well deserves a great biography. With Cooper’s track record of making music-driven movies, it seems like Maestro will be awesome.