What was your first introduction to Leonard Bernstein? Was it the man, or the music?

It was definitely his television series. It was Sunday afternoon that the Young People’s Concerts came on and I remember especially the day I watched one and then I watched The Beatles’ first US appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. I remember thinking how much more I liked Bernstein, although that shifted a little bit as time went on. The first time I saw him in person was at a concert my dad took me to when I was nine or ten with the New York Philharmonic. To be honest I don’t remember the music at all. I just remember his enthusiasm and effervescence and his aerobic approach to music. That was so cool, I thought, jumping around and not getting into trouble. When he turned to talk to the audience, I’d never seen that before. I felt he was speaking just to me, and that’s when I decided I wanted to be a conductor.

Marin Alsop. Photo © Adriane White

What about his own music?

I always loved his...

This article is available to Limelight subscribers.

Log in to continue reading.

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now