Friday, August 25, 2006

Today would have been the 88th birthday of perhaps the most amzing composer, arranger and musical conductor of all times, Mr. Leonard Bernstein. Lennie was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. His Jewish grandmother insisted that he be called "Louis" (and always was in her prescence) but his parents always called him Leonard. Initially, Leonard's father, Sam adamantly opposed Leonard's participation in music even though he took young Leonard to orchestra concerts. He began learning the piano at a young age (sometimes on the sly from his father) When his father found out that the future maestro was taking those lessons he refused to pay for them, so young Bernstein taught young students, himself and used that income to pay for his own lessons. Bernstein attended Harvard University in 1935. After Harvard, Mr. "B" enrolled in the Curtis Institute of music in Philedelphia where he received the only grade of "A" that the great Fritz Reiner had ever awarded in his class on conducting in the history of the school's existence! He studied paino with Isabella Vengerova and Heinrich Gebhard. Leonard enjoyed a promiscous sexual life mostly with young men. He married to quell the gossip about his being gay and with his wife, Felicia he had three children! During most of his married life he was discreet as he could possibly be but became much more open and emboldened leaving his wife with his companion Tom Cothram. Leonard was highly regarded as a conductor, composer, pianist and educator. He wrote three symphonies, two operas, five musicals and three ballets. On December 25th, 1989 Bernstein conducted Beethoven's Symphony Number Nine as part of the celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Throughout his life he conducted many of Aaron Copeland's works and the two became great friends. A thing that surprised me was that Leonard Bernstein wrote and conducted the film score for "On The Waterfront" Leonard died just five days after retiring. On the day of his funeral procession through the streets of Manhattan construction workers removed their hard hats and waved and yelled "Goodbye, Lenny". Leonard Bernstein had touched the "common man". Today is also the 75th birthday of the one and only Regis Philbin. What an amazing life this man has had. I started watching him back in the late 60's when he co-hosted with Joey Bishop on his late night television show. And for toppers, today is also the 76th birthday of Sean Connery, Mr "OO7". Well that about it for today!

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