More history this week, with a concert from the New York Philharmonic featuring the legendary Leonard Bernstein at the podium – from a broadcast on June 22, 1976.
Only two works make up the complete concert this week; Haydn: Symphony Number 102 and Bruckner’s Symphony Number 6.
Although Bernstein was no longer Music Director of the Philharmonic, he still frequently appeared as Conductor Laureate all throughout the remainder of his stellar career.
This particular performance of the Bruckner 6th was available for a short time via a New York Philharmonic box set (although this one comes from the original broadcast tapes). Otherwise, Bernstein never recorded it commercially. Only the 6th and the 9th symphonies were played under Bernstein, but only the 9th was recorded commercially by him. Bruckner fans have run the gamut in their opinions of his interpretation of Bruckner – from very good to very bland. The thing about classical music is the vast numbers of interpretations, or points of view, that go along with them. Unlike other music genres, Classical Music is much like a play – the notes (and the words) are mixed in stone, but it’s how the artist and the orchestra looks at it and what they see in it that makes it a different experience every time it’s heard.
Aside from the fact that the music itself is timeless (Beethoven has been around for a couple hundred years and is still listened to in awe), what the musicians bring to it takes it to another level – and in part what keeps it fresh. Just as in literature (and film) there are no new stories – what keeps it all alive are the points of view which tackle them.
And so for that reason, fans of the music of Anton Bruckner and those who have heard Leonard Bernstein’s take on this performance vary greatly. And that’s perfectly okay.
But all that aside, here is your chance to listen and get your own opinion together – how you feel about.
And if nothing else – here’s a concert to take you out of the madness of the day. Listen and enjoy.