Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan G. Rubin

This took me quite a while to read I have to admit.  It started off high interest and then it ended just feeling very slow to me.  And yet, it wasn’t boring.  The scope of this book is interesting because it covers Bernstein’s childhood and young adulthood up until he finally conducts his first historic performance at Carnegie Hall and becomes crazy famous.  I felt like most of the photos in the book were kind of ugly (making me feel badly for people from 70 years ago immortalized as homely.) Though it ended up really dragging I got interested again at the very end when there was an epilogue of sorts.  It included mini bios of all the people mentioned in the book and I really liked finding out what happened to them all.  There is also an excellent discography.  I thought it was also strange that his personal romantic relationships were not mentioned during the book, but were in the timelines. It immediately made me wonder which men and women he was sleeping with.
What I found most interesting in the book was the fact that apparently music as a pastime was just more prevalent.  There is mention after mention of Lenny and his friends, all teenagers, singing and playing piano together.  Now, is that because they were so musical? Or because arts and music were more popular and broad hobbies since people weren’t sitting in front of computers and tvs?

Although I didn’t love this and wouldn’t have chosen it on my own (this is a Best of the Best reading challenge selection), I am glad I read it and next time I listen to West Side Story or Appalachian Spring (apparently Lenny was great friends with Aaron Copeland) I will be listening with enlightened ears.


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