Leonard Bernstein Essay - Critical Essays


Ewen does a good job of presenting Bernstein as a hero whose accomplishments are attainable through the wise use of talent, persistence, and hard work. The emphasis in the book is definitely on the positive aspect of Bernstein’s personality, with little direct attention given to his faults or flaws, although these are sometimes implied through recitals of his life problems.

One of the points that Ewen makes several times is that Bernstein was well liked by his classmates, audiences, and musicians. His drive for perfection in his own work and his unlimited personal energy were communicated to others in a good-natured, positive manner that made them feel more confident and competent themselves. The admiration that Ewen appears to have for Bernstein’s varied accom-plishments shows in the dual-recitation of Bernstein’s debut performance and in the choice of comments from critical reviews written about it. In fact, as the book ends, it is beginning to seem that Bernstein has led a charmed life with few real human everyday problems and an abundance of accolades.

Ewen portrays Bernstein as an intellectually restless person who chose not to focus all of his creative energy on one aspect of music but rather to expand the boundaries of his activities to the limits set only by his own energy and creativity. It almost seems that this diversity was necessary to enable Bernstein to set goals, to focus on his work, and to complete projects once the...

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