Why Leonard Bernstein is a Model for Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Dec 4, 2017

This week Hilary Hahn plays Bernstein in a live broadcast on WRTI. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, it’s all part of a season-long celebration of the Renaissance man who influenced so many, including Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

More and more I realize he is an inspiration in the way of living the music.

Radio script:

[Music: Bernstein, Candide]

Susan Lewis: Born in 1918, Bernstein earned a liberal arts degree from Harvard in 1939 before attending Curtis in Philadelphia. In 1943,  as assistant conductor at the NY Philharmonic, he stepped onto the podium to cover for an ailing Bruno Walter—launching what would become a high-profile, multifaceted career involving music, education, and social activism.

Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin says he was first fascinated by the conductor.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin: I think we all come to Bernstein in a different way.

SL: In 1944, Bernstein the composer was already demonstrating his talents across genres, with the premiere of his "Jeremiah" symphony and his music for Jerome Robbins’ ballet Fancy Free, and the transformation of that work into the Broadway musical On the Town

[Music: Bernstein, On the Town]

YNS: He is for me, an all-around genius. Because he showed us the way we all try to do now, which is to be the complete musician: engaged socially, blurring the lines between what is so-called popular music or serious music, being a man of the world, present in the crucial moments in the world. More and more I realize he is an inspiration in the way of living the music.

SL: This Sunday on WRTI, Hilary Hahn plays a work  inspired by the Greek philosopher Plato: Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp, and Percussion.