Tag Archives: Leonard Bernstein

The Unanswered Question

Can you recall a sea-change in your thinking taking place after a book, documentary, film, argument talk, lecture? I’ve written here before on Leonard Bernstein’s Norton Lectures, on music and linguistics, The Unanswered Question, and the effect they had on my musical thinking. All six lectures are now on YouTube.

One thing I learned much later was that Bernstein had memorised the scripts! If you have several hours to spare, not necessarily all in the same day, then I can’t recommend them highly enough:

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Leonard Bernstein

A post of John Connell‘s some time ago about polymaths encouraged me to wonder if I regarded anyone in such a light. I immediately thought of pianist, conductor, composer, linguist, educator, broadcaster Leonard Bernstein. Imagine my surprise when I chanced upon his appearance in Radio 4’s biographical programme Great Lives. He’d been chosen as this week’s subject by Charles Hazlewood – in many ways a similar character – who, within a few moments, described Bernstein as a polymath!

If you are interested in connections between music and language, I can think of no better place to explore than Bernstein’s Norton Lectures.

You can hear the programme here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b010626p.

Pentatonic Scale

Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the universality of the pentatonic scale and “audience expectations” in this entertaining video from the World Science Festival 2009. This was part of a larger event in the festival entitled Notes & Neurons.

If the notion of the universality of the pentatonic scale interest you, may I recommend the first of Leonard Bernstein‘s Norton Lectures, in which he relates the pentatonic scale (and varieties of it associated with different cultures) to the harmonic series.

Thanks to Pat Kane for flagging this up in Twitter.

Sync School

Normally I ignore the comments on YouTube as they are frequently inane and occasionally abusive. However, I’m glad I looked down today as I came across a technical tip I’d otherwise have missed. The video concerned features interviews by Truman Fisher with Arnold Schoenberg‘s widow Gertrude, youngest son Lawrence and violinist Rudolf Kolisch – brother of Gertrude, one of Schoenberg’s first pupils and ambassadors of his music.

The sound and vision were out of sync and, for a moment I wondered if a passage of it had been dubbed. However, one of the contributors had offered a technical tip to fix this. Go to the end of the url and add “&fmt=18” – then hit Return. The video will restart with improved synchronisation. Thanks to sneddley for that.

While searching for links for this post, I came upon an amazing mugshot of Igor Stravinsky following his arrest for an arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner and one of a very young Leonard Berstein.