Leonard Bernstein’s N. Y. Phil Conducting Debut 70 Years Ago
Seventy years ago today, November 14, 1943, 25 year old Leonard Bernstein made a triumphant debut conducting the New York Philharmonic. He had been an assistant conductor with that great orchestra for only two months, but fate intervened to give his career a huge boost.
The ailing Bruno Walter had to cancel at the last minute due to the flu, but the show had to go on, and Leonard Bernstein stepped in and gained national recognition. It happened that the concert at Carnegie Hall was being broadcast live across the country on radio. The next day everyone was asking, who is this Bernstein kid?
The big piece in that concert was Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote, a complex 45 minute Late Romantic tone poem for cello and orchestra that requires considerable skill from both the orchestra musicians and the conductor to do well. Bernstein received a standing ovation and was the talk of the town. Fifteen years later, in 1958, he became the music director of that orchestra.
This evening on Symphony @ 7 on Classical 101,we’ll hear Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic in a recording of Don Quixote made while he was that orchestra’s music director.
In the meantime, above is a recording of the 1943 radio broadcast that was heard 70 years ago today.