Celebrating Bernstein

Between multiple Broadway revivals, cabaret recordings, film versions, television clips and concert events, it’s hard to identify the quintessential Leonard Bernstein. As we celebrate the late composer’s birthday this week, TMTP’s staff went down the YouTube rabbit hole to share a few beloved clips worth watching.

“America” from West Side Story
“This scene and song is all about perspective. It is interesting how two different groups can see the same thing so differently. Aside from its very relevant message, this song is one that just seems like it would be so much fun to perform. Every time I see it, whether as a stand-alone or in the show, all of the dancers and singers just appear to be having the best time. The energy is completely infectious.” – Heidi Lang

“Come Up to My Place” from On The Town
“Such a treat! A VERY early TV clip of the great comic and singer Nancy Walker. What I find so wonderful about Nancy, who I’m proud to say was a friend, is that she was really a proto-feminist who knew exactly what she wanted and always got it in her riotously deadpan style. And before she revs up the song, notice the splendid ballet music by Bernstein in the background.” – Bill Rudman

“I Can Cook, Too” from On The Town
“Openly gay comedian and Jazz vocalist Lea DeLaria (an original cast member of the 1998 Broadway revival of On the Town) gave this quintessentially sexy song some new and wonderful twists in the PBS classic ‘My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies.’ If you’re unfamiliar with the concert, the entire live event from Carnegie Hall is available on YouTube and should not be missed!” – Heather Meeker

“Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide
“Perhaps it’s because my husband and I are expecting our first child in the next few weeks, but this song feel very sentimental right now. The lyrics are so important at the beginning, simple but significant, and then when the entire company sings together its some of the most beautiful choral arrangements I have ever heard. The lines leading into the song are, ‘We can only promise to do our best,’ and that is all I wish for our country right now. You plant seeds wherever you go, and it’s so important to remember that and the impact we have on other people. ” – Bridie Srsen

“Tonight” from West Side Story
​Anything from West Side Story could have made this list for me because I believe it’s one of the true masterpieces when it comes to musical theater. But the fact that a recording even exists of Audra and Mandy  singing this music together feels like an extra special gift to the world. Their voices showcase what Bernstein’s music can sound like at its finest. Check out the entire video and/or album of Leonard Bernstein’s New York for more all star performances. ” – Joanna May Cullinan

“The Greatest Five Minutes in Music Education”
​”This is from a Bernstein lecture in his “The Unanswered Question” series at Harvard University in 1973. He takes us through the entire development of western music in 5 minutes at the piano in a way only Bernstein can. It’s really illuminating!” – Nancy Maier