Like George Gershwin before him, Leonard Bernstein exulted in the staccato rhythms of the city, especially the city—New York. His career flourished on a parallel course as a composer, pianist, and conductor: he was hailed as an overnight sensation in 1943 when he replaced an ailing Bruno Walter as conductor of the New York Philharmonic. Shortly afterward, he met choreographer Jerome Robbins, and they created the ballet Fancy Free (1944). Bernstein was intent on creating music with a fast-paced, authentic American voice, and—with his own heyday paralleling the golden age of the American musical—he captured the pulsing energy of the city in his most popular works—On the Town, Wonderful Town, and West Side Story. He also helped popularize music of all kinds in his legendary “Young People’s Concerts,” which were broadcast on television to wide audiences in the 1950s.
The sitter; his children; Springate Corporation, New York, representing Bernstein estate; gift 1991 to NPG