Bernstein’s Debut.


Bernstein’s Magic.

I remember the year 1951 for many reasons: My family emigrated to New York from Vienna; I started to learn English; and Leonard Bernstein was becoming more well-known and later conducting the Young People’s Concerts on television.

Leonard Bernstein was born on August 25, 1918, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Flamboyant, inspired, and unconventional in his conducting style, Bernstein got his big break conducting the New York Philharmonic in 1943.

On November 14, 1943, Bernstein was called at 9 AM. The orchestra’s guest conductor, Bruno Walter, had fallen ill. Bernstein was asked to step in and conduct that afternoon’s concert. The young conductor totally amazed his listeners and his players.

On the following day the New York Times published a front-page article about his performance. Overnight, Bernstein became a respected conductor, one who would lead the Philharmonic 11 times by the end of that season.

In 1958, the 40 year-old Bernstein would become the first American-born and trained music director of a major symphony orchestra. From then until 1969 he led more concerts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra than any previous conductor.

Please see the concert program in the left column dated January 5, 1958. The SchumannManfred Overture” was one of the compositions that Bernstein performed back in 1943, when he substituted for Bruno Walter, and the rest followed…

Here is the historic recording of that concert, back in 1943, when Bernstein had the opportunity to “show his stuff”:

Schumann’s Manfred Overture conducted by Bernstein and the N. Y. Philharmonic in 1943:



After an amazing career as a conductor, composer, pianist, teacher, and father, Leonard Bernstein died on October 14, 1990 in New York City. He was 72.


Tags: Leonard Bernstein, Debut, New York Philharmonic, Manfred Overture, Robert Schumann