Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein

Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein

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Author/Contributor(s): Cott, Jonathan
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Date: 01/08/2013
Binding: Hardcover
Condition: NEW
Leonard Bernstein was arguably the most highly esteemed, influential, and charismatic American classical music personality of the twentieth century. Conductor, composer, pianist, writer, educator, and human rights activist, Bernstein truly led a life of Byronic intensity--passionate,
risk-taking, and convention-breaking.

In November 1989, just a year before his death, Bernstein invited writer Jonathan Cott to his country home in Fairfield, Connecticut for what turned out to be his last major interview--an unprecedented and astonishingly frank twelve-hour conversation. Now, in Dinner with Lenny, Cott provides a
complete account of this remarkable dialogue in which Bernstein discourses with disarming frankness, humor, and intensity on matters musical, pedagogical, political, psychological, spiritual, and the unabashedly personal. Bernstein comes alive again, with vodka glass in hand, singing, humming, and
making pointed comments on a wide array of topics, from popular music (the Beatles were the best songwriters since Gershwin), to great composers (Wagner was always in a psychotic frenzy. He was a madman, a megalomaniac), and politics (lamenting the brainlessness, the mindlessness, the
carelessness, and the heedlessness of the Reagans of the world). And of course, Bernstein talks of conducting, advising students to look at the score and make it come alive as if they were the composer. If you can do that, you're a conductorand if you can't, you're not. If I don't become Brahms
or Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky when I'm conducting their works, then it won't be a great performance.

After Rolling Stone magazine published an abridged version of the conversation in 1990, the Chicago Tribune praised it as an extraordinary interview filled with passion, wit, and acute analysis. Studs Terkel called the interview astonishing and revelatory. Now, this full-length version
provides the reader with a unique, you-are-there perspective on what it was like to converse with this gregarious, witty, candid, and inspiring American dynamo.