ISSUE DATE: Feb. 4, 1957
The world of music had found a slave — one who would, if he could, become its master. Jennie Bernstein’s little buster started slowly, but at 20 he came busting out of Boston’s unfashionable suburbs with alarming drive and talent. The tone for his spectacular career was set with the now legendary incident, 13 years ago, when, as a virtually unknown, 25-year-old assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, he triumphantly substituted for ailing Bruno Walter — without rehearsal. “Like a shoe string catch in center field,” explained the New York Daily News. “Make it and you’re a hero. Muff it and you’re a dope . . . Bernstein made it.”
Ever since then, Bernstein has been making it everywhere, with a versatility that” reminds his more enthusiastic admir ers of Renaissance Man. In an age of specialization, he refuses to stay put in any cultural pigeonhole. He is a Mickey Mantle of music, a brilliant switch hitter, conducting with his right hand and composing with his left—not to mention several other occupations that would be full-time careers for other men. Like a juggler whose oranges have suddenly acquired a demonic will of their own, Bernstein today finds himself with five careers in the air at once.
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