Earlier in the week, I went to the Skirball Museum, halfway between Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. They had two exhibits I wanted to see -- one, on Jim Henson and the Muppets, and the other dedicated to Leonard Bernstein in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth. Both were well-done, the Henson and Muppet certainly more fun (and nice seeing that it included a short video of Kukla, Fran and Ollie as one of his early inspirations), but there were some very nice touches in the Bernstein presentation. There was an area, for instance, where you could learn to conduct and do so along with a video, and a sort of recording booth that let you sing along with a song from Bernstein's West Side Story. There was also a video playing one of his early Young People's Concerts. I thought I'd check that out for a few seconds, and was taken by how fascinating it was and held up -- and I ended up staying watching longer than I thought.
As it happens, today is that 100th anniversary.
There have been Bernstein tributes all year, leading up to today, and a great many the past week. And I suspect if you turn on a classical music station today, or stream one from the Internet, you might find some that are dedicated to play his music. West Side Story, Candide, Wonderful Town, On the Town, Fancy Free, any of his symphonies, songs and more. So, there's plenty to find. I thought I'd instead let him speak for himself.
This is one of his Young People's Concerts. It's a later one -- easy to tell, since it's in color -- from 1970. But it's just as vibrant as ever. This is on "The Anatomy of an Orchestra." Just like at the Skirball, I thought I'd check out a little bit of it...and just kept watching.
You may not want to watch the whole thing -- it's 50 minutes or so -- but then you may find your self sucked in. But even if you just watch 10 minutes, or jump around through it, or watch it in parts, coming back to where you left out, I think it will be a treat.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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