Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Beginning at age four, I took piano lessons, influenced by my great grandmother's playing. I remember each of my five teachers quite well and loved some more than others. One decision I made in high school was to keep music as a hobby and not pursue a musical major in college. Still, I love stories about musicians and their determination to develop their talents, despite outside pressures to abandon musical pursuits in favor of more prestigious or higher-paying careers. Take Leonard Bernstein, for example. Though his mother supported his dream to play piano well, his father told him he could only be a klezmer with such a career choice. Lenny persevered, and as we know, became one of the most respected musicians and directors of all time.
Susan Goldman Rubin's latest biography - Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein - taught me about his early life and his rise to recognition and fame. Accompanied by numerous photographs, the work he did with many other famous musicians and those who became close friends is described in detail. Her timeline, biographies of other musicians, list of recordings and resources (which motivated me to reserve the recommended recordings from the library), and an epilogue about his later life help complete the story. It is the perfect book to recommend to the 5th graders for their Wax Museum projects, especially since the high school students will be performing West Side Story in two months.