Nov. 14 was a signal day in the life of conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein.
It was the date Bernstein launched his career and passed into music legend by substituting as conductor for the New York Philharmonic for the ailing Bruno Walter.
It was also the date Bernstein's first "Omnibus" program aired, bringing classical music to young audiences across the U.S. On that date he also met composer Aaron Copland, one of his major influences.
In honor of these crossroads events, Bernstein's family and the N2K company chose Nov. 14 as the date to launch the Leonard Bernstein website on the internet.
The URL is http://www.leonardbernstein.com. But starting Nov. 14 the site reportedly will feature sound clips, video clips, interviews, oral history, original manuscripts, bulletin boards, and regularly scheduled chats on the maestro, his works and his collaborators, according to site designer Jonas Gray of N2K.
It's a commercial site that will offer Bernstein-related merchandise for sale.
Bernstein composed music for Broadway musicals West Side Story (currently on tour), Candide (being revived on Broadway in April 1997), On the Town, Wonderful Town, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and a 1950 version of Peter Pan, plus many concert, film and ballet works.
There was a period of time when Bernstein's name equated with classical music in the minds of millions of Americans, during the decades he conducted the New York Philharmonic, and the years he hosted radio broadcasts of concerts for grownups and especially for young people. His broadcasts were the "Schoolhouse Rock" of classical music.
Bernstein's daughter, Nina Bernstein, who hatched the idea of the website, and who will serve as executive director of the site, told Playbill On-Line, that the family found itself "sitting on this magnificent legacy, this extraordinary archive, in every format and every medium possible. Then along comes a medium [online] that allows you to hit them all simultaneously. We decided this would be the best way of getting the word out both to fans of longstanding and newcomers to the Bernstein legacy, the life, the man's work and how extraordinary he was."
Bernstein said the site will be updated monthly, with a different theme each month. The first month will focus on the aforementioned events liked to Bernstein's red-letter date, Nov. 14.
In December, the site will focus on the Young People's Concerts, and the January theme under consideration is West Side Story, currently on a national tour, and being considered for a film remake, Bernstein said.
It's accurate that it's being discussed" she said of the film, "But there's absolutely nothing concrete yet."
Other monthly themes are still being discussed, but Bernstein said April 1997 will definitely be Candide month, in honor of the Broadway revival of her father's musical.
The www.leonardbernstein.com site is associated with Classical Insites (www.classicalinsites.com), which features classical music in general.
-- By Robert Viagas