The year was 1943. Leonard Bernstein had achieved the seemingly impossible: A young American man was named Assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Keep in mind that in earlier times it likely would be an experienced European musician who would hold that position at one of the world’s great musical organizations. After all, this group was led in the past by giants such as Arturo Toscanini and Gustav Mahler.
The permanent conductor that year was a wonderful man by the name of Bruno Walter. And the famous story is that one night Mr. Walter became ill, and was unable to perform his planned concert. Bernstein was called and achieved a complete triumph, which ultimately led to his own appointment as Walter’s successor. At this concert, Bernstein performed Schumann’s Manfred Overture, and the composer has remained one of Bernstein’s favorites.
Robert Schumann composed four symphonies in his brief lifetime. This DVD contains all 4. Bernstein particularly loved the second symphony, having heard it performed by his mentor, the conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos, and with whom Bernstein studied as a conducting student.
This DVD contains all four symphonies, which are performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Bernstein achieves a whole range of experiences here: Tender, sweet, dramatic and joyful moments, as well as periods of excitement and anticipation. This is romantic music at its best…
My personal favorite is the Schumann second symphony. For me, this music brings back the time back in 1950, as 14 year old boy, when I became a member of the violin section of the Brooklyn NY orchestra. I recall vividly my own excitement in discovering the magic of this music and practicing it for public performance.