'Something Develops Onstage Called Love': Baltimore Symphony's Bernstein Centennial

05.12.18
Marin Alsop, Jamie Bernstein
NPR

It's the Leonard Bernstein centennial this year and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestrahas been celebrating.Last weekend, music director Marin Alsop and the orchestra played music from Bernstein's Candide, On the Town and West Side Story — and shared photographs and videos of Bernstein with the audience. "Something develops onstage called love," he says in one clip, from a 1990 tribute on CBS Sunday Morning. "I'm sorry to use this four-letter-word; it's just so abused. But that's what it is — that's what it's all about. And it's not just a love between me and the orchestra. It is among themselves, and boy, does that make music."

Marin Alsop invited NPR's Scott Simon to join her onstage at that event for a discussion her and with Jamie Bernstein, the composer's daughter — who is publishing a memoir in June called Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein. Hear their conversation at the audio link, and read an edited transcript below.
Scott Simon: Bernstein was one of the great blessings of your life, to know him and be nurtured by him. Tell us about that. Marin Alsop: Well, when I was 9 years old, my dad took me to a Young People's Concert. This guy came out, and he was so cool; he was wearing a turtleneck. When he turned around to conduct the orchestra, he was jumping around. I thought to myself, "Nobody's yelling at this guy. I should be the conductor." I think it was an aerobic decision at 9 years old, but really it was because of that. I turned to my dad and said, "You know, I want to be the conductor." And I never changed my mind — not for one minute, not for one day.

Simon: Jamie, I'm going to guess it can't always be easy to be the daughter of a towering figure. Jamie Bernstein: It is not always easy, but it's never boring. Our house was full of interesting, lively, creative, funny people. Extra chairs were always being dragged up to the dinner table, and I went to sleep listening to my parents and their friends laughing and carrying on and roaring around the piano ... and everybody was singing along and playing word games and charades. I thought all grown-ups did was have fun for a very long time. I couldn't wait to be a grown-up. Then, I found out it was a little more complicated than I realized.
 
Simon: Could we talk about Leonard Bernstein as a composer, and of the influence he had on Broadway? Especially at a time when there wasn't that sort of crossover between the two worlds of classical performance and Broadway. Bernstein: You know, my father was such a people person, but composing is a very lonely job. So I think he gravitated to theater of one kind or another, partially because it meant that he could work with collaborators.
 
Read the rest of the interview here