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Books

Did Leonard Bernstein do too much to be a great artist?

The composer sent "I love you"s to just about everyone, as The Leonard Bernstein Letters reveal

16 November 2013

9:00 AM

16 November 2013

9:00 AM

The Leonard Bernstein Letters Nigel Simeone

Yale, pp.606, £25

Nigel Simeone’s title for his edition of Leonard Bernstein’s correspondence rings compellingly, novellistically, through the force of the definite article, as in The Aspern Papers, or The Scarlet Letter. The reality, though, is more diffuse. Bernstein was a man of enormous endowments. One correspondent, after listing his talents as a composer, orchestrator, pianist, conductor, lecturer and general all-round musical functionary, ends by enquiring ironically, ‘Can you cook?’

The list might have been extended.

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