Shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis asked Bernstein to compose a piece for the 1971 inauguration of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. He was eager to honor the occasion with a new, large-scale work because he knew he had always wanted "to compose a service of one sort or another." The son of Russian-Jewish parents, a social liberal, and lifelong activist, Bernstein made a surprising choice: the Roman Catholic Mass.
The Leonard Bernstein Office Mission
The Leonard Bernstein Office (LBO) sustains and strengthens Leonard Bernstein’s legacy by inspiring global engagement with his work as a composer, conductor, educator, and humanitarian. Through licensing, promotion, music editing, and publishing, the LBO strives to communicate his lifelong devotion to the transformative power and joy of music.
Thus Spake Leonard Bernstein:
“And what have teachers got to do with music? The answer is: everything.
We can all think of a self-taught painter or writer, but it is almost impossible to imagine a professional musician who doesn't owe something to one teacher or another. The trouble is that we don't always realize how important teachers are, in music or in anything else. Teaching is probably the noblest profession in the world — the most unselfish, difficult, and honorable profession. It is also the most unappreciated, underrated, underpaid, and underpraised profession in the world.”
-Leonard Bernstein, 1983
“A Tribute to Teachers”
Young People’s Concert
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