Leonard Bernstein Family Gives Gift To Indiana Univ 3/9
Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music today (March 9) announced the receipt of an unprecedented gift from the family of Leonard Bernstein that contains the contents of Leonard Bernstein's Fairfield, Conn., composing studio, including a conducting stool from the Vienna Philharmonic that is said to have been used by Johannes Brahms.
"We are honored to receive this gift, which follows a rich collaborative and professional relationship between the Bernstein family and the Jacobs School that began in the early 1970s," said Gwyn Richards, dean of the Jacobs School of Music. "In a real sense, Leonard Bernstein connected with our school and its leadership, and it is thrilling to know that the link with Indiana continues and is strengthened through this remarkable gesture."
"My father's artistic and educational connection with Indiana University was profound," said Leonard's son, Alexander Bernstein. "He adored the institution and became close to the dean, faculty and, of course, students. On one of his first trips to Bloomington, he said, 'I have to report that I've fallen in love with the school.' My sisters, Jamie and Nina, join me in celebrating the continuation of this relationship by literally bringing together two places in which he was happiest working. We cannot imagine a more fitting home for this exciting new presentation of Leonard Bernstein's working life."
The Jacobs School plans to create a Leonard Bernstein Studio that will contain the items of the Leonard Bernstein Studio Collection in substantially the same arrangement as they existed in Bernstein's Fairfield, Conn., studio. The space will also be used as a teaching studio for distinguished guests. Most of the contents of the room will be available for students, faculty and the general public, who can examine the items that surrounded the great composer during a significant portion of his career and read through books and music scores that were given to the Jacobs School as part of separate gifts from the Bernstein family. Following planning for the Jacobs School's new North Faculty Studio Building and consultation with the Bernstein family on the arrangement and appearance of the studio, a location will be announced.
Selected items from the collection will also go on display for a few weeks in the lobby of the Musical Arts Center this spring. This will coincide with the announcement of the upcoming IU Opera and Ballet Theater 2009-2010 season.
Craig Urquhart, vice president of public relations and promotion for The Leonard Bernstein Office, said Bernstein's Fairfield studio was one of just two studios where he composed during the last 30 years of his life (the other was in New York City). During that time, Bernstein wrote his "Harvard Norton Lectures" and composed several of his best-known works: Kaddish, his third symphony; Halil; Arias and Barcarolles, which includes Mr. and Mrs. Webb Say Goodnight (dedicated to Dean Emeritus Charles and Kenda Webb); Mass; Divertimento; his ballet Dybbuk; the opera A Quiet Place; and Songfest, among many others.
"Leonard Bernstein was one of the greatest classical musicians of the 20th century and the first American conductor to have an international career," said Urquhart. "The significance of his legacy is profound. To be able to recreate a space in which he functioned, for the world to see, will be a remarkable educational experience."
Said Phil Ponella, director of the William and Gayle Cook Music Library and director of Music Information Technology Services at Jacobs, of the collection, "There is nothing like standing in front of Leonard Bernstein's standup composing desk with blank paper, visualizing how he might have composed. While nearly every item has a story behind it -- for example, the conducting stool traditionally thought to be used by Brahms, given to Bernstein by the Vienna Philharmonic on the event of his 70th birthday -- my most exciting moments were when I unpacked one of his batons, and then a pencil and ruler that were with some blank manuscript paper. The extraordinary items contained in the gift sum up the legacy he has left behind, that of perhaps the greatest American conductor and composer."