NY Philharmonic Remembers Leonard Bernstein—And When He Called the Brass Section ‘Hunky Brutes’

Classic Arts News   NY Philharmonic Remembers Leonard Bernstein—And When He Called the Brass Section ‘Hunky Brutes’
 
“Any time we perform Maestro Bernstein’s music, it feels like there’s an essence of New York in it.“

As the New York Philharmonic celebrates former Music Director Leonard Bernstein as part of a worldwide centennial initiative, musicians from the orchestra convened to share what makes the composer such an integral part of the group—and New York as a whole. Watch the video above.

Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein

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“Any time we perform Maestro Bernstein’s music, it feels like there’s an essence of New York in it,” explains violinist Yulia Ziskel. “It feels like it was written for this orchestra. And the orchestra, somehow, magically knows how to play it.”

Principal trombone player Joseph Alessi recalls an incident in which Bernstein, while on tour with the orchestra, called the brass section a group of “hunky brutes” in an effort to get them to produce more sound. It worked (after laughs from the entire orchestra), and even led to customized T-shirts that Bernstein later sported.

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The Philharmonic’s centennial festival, titled Bernstein’s Philharmonic, runs through November 14 and includes Bernstein’s Serenade as performed by Joshua Bell, Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs and The Age of Anxiety paired with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Bernstein’s Kaddish paired with Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote.

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