Of course, he could not be limited to only two or three aspects of a long career in music, and to give you a comical but true glimpse, I enlist a highlight from the Bernstein@70 celebration at Tanglewood in 1988. Lauren Bacall, of all people (also a neighbor of his at the Dakota building in NYC), sings—yes, sings! With the amazing and inventive Paul Ford at the piano, they perform “The Saga of Lenny,” courtesy of Stephen Sondheim and taking a little Vhile (Weill!!). He never could make up his mind…

It says it all.

My own career has been so very fortunate to intersect with his orbit at several time points and different situations. Of course, the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts were a must-watch during my early years, and the intersections continued through working with him as orchestra personnel manager at the BSO from 1986-1991. At his many performances (with me often on clarinet), and as librarian of the Tanglewood Music Center, his energy and dedication were constants in my world there. Nothing was ever dull or uninspired or routine.

The huge celebration of LB at 70 at Tanglewood in 1988 was a smash hit (the entire performance can also be found on YouTube), and what could follow that up for 71?

Well, LB’s concert on Aug. 27, 1989, included Copland’s “Music for the Movies.”

For a rehearsal, I arranged “Happy Birthday” to be overlaid on the Copland’s third movement. The orchestra played the birthday tune—a complete surprise, at which LB turned to me with, “I cannot trrrrrust you!”

Mission accomplished.

Bruce Creditor recently retired from his long career at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is a splendid musician and music lover who has performed and worked with many of the finest musicians of our time. He knew Bernstein personally, as this piece indicates.

Related

The Jewish Arts Collaborative presents Bernstein Reimagined, a concert as eclectic as Bernstein was, this Thursday, May 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center. Hosted by Broadway’s Seth Rudetsky (Sirius XM) and Andrea Burns (“In The Heights,” “West Side Story,” “Beauty and the Beast”), and featuring some of Boston’s finest musicians (Ran Blake, Dominique Eade, Donald Berman, Vance Gilbert, the Lonely Heartstring Band), it’s an evening unlike any other Bernstein concert you will see—an evening of unexpected pairings of Bernstein’s music and superb, creative musicians. Get tickets here.

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