After making his directorial debut with a remake of A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper this week releases his second film as a director, Maestro, about legendary composer, conductor, author and pianist Leonard Bernstein.
The film is scheduled for a limited theatrical release on Wednesday (Nov. 22), before streaming on Netflix on Dec. 20.
Maestro isn’t a standard music biopic. It isn’t primarily concerned with the peaks and valleys of Bernstein’s career. Instead, it focuses on Bernstein’s relationship with his wife, Felicia Montealegre, who is played by Carey Mulligan, a two-time Oscar nominee for An Education and Promising Young Woman. Cooper plays Bernstein.
Their marriage was complicated by the fact that Bernstein was bisexual. An early scene has Bernstein, ever musical, playing bongos on Matt Bomer’s bottom.
In addition to directing and acting in the film, Cooper co-wrote it with Josh Singer (who won an Oscar for best original screenplay for Spotlight), and co-produced it with Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Fred Berner, Amy Durning and Kristie Macosko Krieger.
Cooper served in all those same capacities on A Star Is Born, and wound up with four Oscar nominations (among eight that the film received).
Maestro makes generous use of Bernstein’s music, which includes the Broadway musicals On the Town, Wonderful Town, Candide and West Side Story. Among the most famous songs that he co-wrote: “New York, New York” (which continues “a helluva town/ The Bronx is up, but the Battery’s down”) from On the Town; and many classic songs from West Side Story, including “Somewhere,” “Something’s Coming,” “Maria,” “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty” and “America.”
Bernstein died of a heart attack brought on by mesothelioma in 1990 at age 72. Here are 10 things you should know about this towering figure of American music.
He composed the album that remained No. 1 on the Billboard 200 longer than any other.
Bernstein composed the music for West Side Story, which also featured lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim. The soundtrack album logged 54 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 1962-63, longer than any other album since the chart was introduced on a regular, weekly basis in 1956. West Side Story received a Grammy nomination for album of the year, but lost to Judy Garland’s legendary live album, Judy at Carnegie Hall.
He had a top 20 album on the Billboard 200 in 1961.
Bernstein Plays Brubeck Plays Bernstein was a joint project with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, best known for the classic “Take Five.” The album reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200.
He won 16 Grammys, seven Primetime Emmys and a Tony.
His Grammys include six awards for best classical album. His Emmys include back-to-back awards for best musical contribution for television for Omnibus (1957-58). His Tony was for Wonderful Town, a collaboration with Betty Comden and Adolph Green, which was voted best musical of 1953.
In addition, he was nominated for an Oscar for music score of a dramatic or comedy picture for the 1954 classic On the Waterfront. The film won eight Oscars, but Bernstein lost in his category. If he’d nailed down that Oscar, he would have become an EGOT winner when he won his first two Grammys on May 29, 1962. That would have made him just the second artist to complete the coveted achievement. Legendary theater composer Richard Rodgers became the first exactly one week earlier, when he won his only Emmy.
With his larger-than-life personality, he had a gift for turning young people on to “serious music.”
Bernstein won a Primetime Emmy in 1965 (outstanding individual achievement in entertainment) for New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concerts with Leonard Bernstein. He won three Grammys (1962-64) for best recording for children, for Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf, Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals/Britten: Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Bernstein Conducts for Young People.
He was a nominee at the very first Grammy Awards ceremony.
He was nominated for best classical performance – orchestral for conducting the New York Philharmonic on Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps. The ceremony was held on May 4, 1959 to honor 1958 releases.
Bernstein was also a founding member of the New York chapter of the Recording Academy.
At both the Primetime Emmys and the Grammys, his wins span 30-plus years.
Bernstein received his first Primetime Emmy (best musical contribution for television) in 1957 for Omnibus. He received his last (outstanding individual achievement in classical music) in 1987 for Carnegie Hall: The Grand Reopening.
He received his first two Grammys in 1962 – best recording for children for Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf and best documentary or spoken word recording (other than comedy) for Humor in Music. He received his last two Grammys posthumously in 1993 – best orchestral performance and best classical album, both for Mahler: Symphony No. 9.
He is the only person to receive honorary awards from the Television Academy, the Recording Academy and the Tonys.
Bernstein received a special Tony Award in 1969, a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy in 1985 and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame posthumously in 1991. He’s the only person to receive all three of these accolades.
When he received the lifetime achievement award at the Grammy Awards, after some flirtatious banter about the night’s big winner, Tina Turner, Bernstein said, “I am very happy tonight for music. And I’ll be even happier and maybe even ecstatic if tonight can be a step toward the ultimate marriage of all kinds of music, because they are all one.”
He was in the third class of inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (in 1972).
He was honored alongside such fellow giants as Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne and Pete Seeger.
He was in the third class of Kennedy Center Honorees (in 1980).
He was honored alongside actor James Cagney, dancer and choreographer Agnes DeMille, actress Lynn Fontane and opera star Leontyne Price.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis commissioned him to write music for the 1971 opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The resulting work, Mass, received two Grammy nominations – album of the year, classical and best choral performance, classical (other than opera). Bernstein’s double-album of the work charted on the Billboard 200 for 20 weeks in 1971-72.
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Link to the source article – https://www.billboard.com/lists/leonard-bernstein-maestro-what-to-know-composer/
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