AboutTimeline

  • August 25, 1918
    Born to Jennie (nee Charna Resnick) & Samuel Joseph (Shmuel Yosef) Bernstein, Lawrence, Massachusetts.
  • 1931
    Began taking piano lessons with Susan Williams at the New England Conservatory of Music at age 13 and gave his first public performance at one of her pupils' concerts on 30 March 1932, performing "Cracovienne Fantastique" by Paderewski, "Tendre Aveu" by Schuett, and the Brahms G Minor Rhapsody.
  • July 11, 1937
    George Gershwin dies.
  • 1938
    The American Record Corporation is acquired by Columbia Broadcasting System and renamed Columbia Recording Corporation.
  • April 21, 1942
    Premiere of Sonata for Clarinet and Piano at the Institute of Modern Art in Boston, MA with David Glazer, clarinet & Leonard Bernstein, piano.
  • July 1942
    Worked as assistant to Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood.
  • August 25, 1943
    Premiere of I Hate Music, Jennie Tourel & LB, Public Library, Lenox, Mass.
  • November 13, 1943
  • January 28, 1944
    Conducted premiere of his Symphony No. 1: Jeremiah with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and mezzo-soprano Jennie Tourel.
  • April 1944
    Signed his first contract with a recording company; RCA-Victor.
  • April 18, 1944
    Conducted premiere of his and Jerome Robbins' ballet Fancy Free at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.
  • August 26, 1944
    First appearance at the Hollywood Bowl.
  • December 28, 1944
    Broadway opening of On The Town at Adelphi Theater in New York City.
  • August 6, 1945
    The United States drops nuclear weapons on Hiroshima.
  • October 8, 1945
    Began three-year directorship of the New York City Symphony.
  • May 15, 1946
    Made his overseas debut with Czech Philharmonic, Prague.
  • May 10, 1948
    Led an orchestra of 17 Jewish musicians, survivors of the St. Ottilien internment camp, at Landsberg and Feldafing Displaced Persons camps in a program which included Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with Bernstein as soloist.
  • April 8, 1949
    Premiere of Symphony No. 2: The Age of Anxiety by Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Bernstein as piano soloist at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA.
  • December 10, 1949
    First television appearance as conductor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at UN Human Rights Day Concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
  • February 9, 1950
    Senator Joseph McCarthy delivers the Enemies Within speech, while holding a paper which purportedly listed 205 (later revised to 57) names of Communist Party members in the United States Department of State.
  • April 24, 1950
    Broadway opening of Peter Pan at the Imperial Theater in New York City.
  • June 12, 1952
    Led premiere of Trouble in Tahiti at Brandeis University as part of the school's first Festival of the Creative Arts.
  • February 26, 1953
    Broadway opening of Wonderful Town at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City.
  • December 4, 1953
    Became first American to conduct at La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy in a production of Cherubini's Medea with soprano Maria Callas.
  • September 12, 1954
    Conducted premiere of his Serenade with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Isaac Stern as violin soloist at Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Italy.
  • November 14, 1954
    Wrote and performed his first Omnibus telecast on the sketches of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
  • August 11, 1955
    Led premiere of Symphonic Suite from "On the Waterfront" with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood.
  • November 17, 1955
    Broadway opening of The Lark, with incidental music by Leonard Bernstein with New York Pro Musica, conducted by Noah Greenberg, at the Longacre Theatre in New York City.
  • December 1, 1956
    Broadway opening of Candide at the Martin Beck Theater in New York City.
  • September 26, 1957
    Broadway opening of West Side Story at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City.
  • October 4, 1957
    The Soviet Union inaugurates the Space Age with the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite.
  • February 13, 1958
    Van Cliburn wins the first International Tchaikovsky Competition.
  • January 19, 1961
    Conducted the National Symphony Orchestra at the pre-inaugural gala for President John F. Kennedy in a Fanfare, which he composed for the occasion, as well at Stars and Stripes Forever and Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.
  • September 23, 1962
    Led inaugural concert of the New York Philharmonic in Philharmonic Hall (now David Geffen Hall) at Lincoln Center in New York City.
  • October 16, 1962
    The United States and the Soviet Union begin a 13-day confrontation known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • November 29, 1962
    Was Master of Ceremonies at a fundraising gala for the National Cultural Center at the DC Armory, hosted by President and Mrs. Kennedy. The gala helped finance what was to become the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • November 22, 1963
    President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.
  • November 25, 1963
  • December 10, 1963
    Led premiere of Symphony No. 3: Kaddish with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv, Israel with Hannah Rovina as narrator and Jennie Tourel as mezzo-soprano soloist.
  • February 7, 1964
    Beatlemania arrives in the United States. 3,000 Screaming fans greet John, Paul, George, and Ringo at JFK Airport in New York City.
  • March 6, 1964
    U. S. operatic conducting debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, conducting first of ten performances of Verdi's Falstaff, Franco Zeffirelli, director.
  • March 24, 1965
    The Stars for Freedom Rally was held on the final night of the historic Selma to Montgomery March in support of voting rights led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At the request of Dr. King, Harry Belafonte organized a group of the country’s best known entertainers to put on a spectacular show for the marchers. The “stars” included Sammy Davis Jr., Peter, Paul and Mary, Tony Bennett, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Mahalia Jackson, Sidney Portier, Nipsy Russell, Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Alan King, Tony Perkins, Shelly Winters, Odetta, Nina Simone, and Leonard Bernstein. Mr. Belafonte paid most expenses of the event. The group entertained an estimated 25,000 marchers at the City of St. Jude, a Roman Catholic complex outside of Montgomery, which offered its 36-acre campus to the weary marchers who slept on the athletic field. A rally was held to inspire the marchers and prepare them for the next day’s journey to the Alabama State Capitol. Dr. King was cheered when he appeared on stage and said “This is the greatest march on any capitol that there has ever been in the South. This will go down in history as one of the greatest developments in the civil rights movement.” The next day, King delivered one of his most famous speeches, “How Long, Not Long”.
  • July 9, 1967
    Conducted Israel Philharmonic Orchestra on Mt. Scopus, Israel, after the Six-Day War, filmed as Journey to Jerusalem.
  • January 21, 1968
    On January 21, 1968, Leonard Bernstein and Paul Newman co-hosted "Broadway for Peace," a fundraiser at Lincoln Center's Philharmonic Hall to support the Congressional Peace Campaign Committee, which funded campaigns of congressional candidates opposing the Vietnam War. Harry Belafonte opened the star-studded program featuring Joanne Woodward, Carl Reiner, Tommy Smothers, Diahann Carroll, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, and Barbra Streisand.
  • April 13, 1968
    Led first production at the Vienna State Opera in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier with Otto Schenk, director.
  • June 6, 1968
    Conducted members of the New York Philharmonic in the Adagietto from Mahler's Symphony No. 5 at the funeral of Robert Kennedy at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.
  • July 20, 1969
    Neil Armstrong becomes the first human to walk on the moon's surface.
  • September 8, 1971
    Inaugurated the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., with premiere of MASS: A Theater Piece for Singer, Players, and Dancers.
  • January 19, 1973
    Led Concert for Peace at National Cathedral in Washington D.C., with members of National Symphony Ochestra, in protest against President Richard Nixon, on the eve of his second term in office.
  • October 6, 1973
    The coalition of Arab states fight against Israel until October 25.
  • May 16, 1974
    Led premiere of his and Jerome Robbins' ballet Dybbuk with the New York City Ballet at the State Theater in New York City.
  • May 4, 1976
    Broadway opening of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at the Mark Hellinger Theater in New York City.
  • July 4, 1976
    The United States of American celebrates its Bicentennial.
  • February 15, 1979
    Led Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City in a concert for state visit by President Jimmy Carter to President López Portillo.
  • September 25, 1980
    Premiere of Divertimento with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa, conductor.
  • November 14, 1980
    Conducted Copland's Lincoln Portrait, with Copland as narrator, on Copland's 80th birthday with the National Symphony Orchestra.
  • December 7, 1980
    Received Kennedy Center Honor for Lifetime Contributions to American Culture through the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.
  • May 27, 1981
    Led premiere of Halil: Nocturne with flautist Jean Pierre Rampal and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv, Israel.
  • June 12, 1981
    Conducted Kaddish, Halil, and Three Meditations from "Mass" with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra honoring Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.
  • October 1, 1982
    The first popular music compact discs were released.
  • April 30, 1983
    Conducted mezzo-soprano Shirley Verrett and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Orchestra in the "Star Spangled Banner" at Madison Square Garden. The occasion was a major Gay Men’s Health Crisis AIDS fundraising event that marked a turning point in the fight for public awareness of AIDS and advocacy for medical care and research.
  • December 31, 1983
    Spoke on anti nuclear and peace causes at Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC
  • September 4, 1984
    Recorded West Side Story for Deutsche Grammaphon with opera singers, including Kiri Te Kanawa, Jose Carreras and Tatiana Troyanos in New York City.
  • November 8, 1987
    Leonard Bernstein and James Levine conducted the legendary "Music for Life" AIDS research benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. This event raised a staggering $1.7 million and included such performers as Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, Luciano Pavarotti Official, Samuel Ramey, and Yo-Yo Ma. The spirit of “Music for Life” was exemplified by the voluntary participation of members from New York’s leading orchestras.
  • May 9, 1988
    Led premiere of Arias and Barcarolles at the Equitable Center Auditorium in New York City.
  • September 1, 1989
    Led Polish National Radio Sympony Orchestra, Warsaw and Poznan Choruses, and international soloists in a Warsaw concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, sharing the podium with Lukas Foss and Krzysztof Penderecki.
  • October 31, 1989
    Last concert with the New York Philharmonic.
  • November 9, 1989
    Fall of the Berlin Wall.
  • November 15, 1989
    Refused National Medal of Arts from President George H.W. Bush as a protest against revoked NEA grant in connection with a New York City exhibit of AIDS-related art.
  • December 25, 1989
    Led Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and members of the New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and Leningrad Philharmonic. Berlin Freedom Concert celebrating opening of Berlin Wall, Schauspielhaus, East Berlin. Telecast worldwide.
  • October 14, 1990
    The death of Leonard Bernstein, 6:15 p.m. at his home, 1 West 72nd Street, NYC. Cardiac arrest brought on by side-effects of treatment for mesothelioma.