Leonard Bernstein: What Does Music Mean?

On January 18, 1958 Leonard Bernstein began presenting his television series What does music mean?  The series ran for 53 programs.  Some of the episodes can be found below:

Part 1 What is Classical Music?

Plot: Bernstein conducts Handel’s Water Music and cites it as an indisputable example of classical music. “Exact” is the word that best defines classical music, Bernstein says and he demonstrates with musical illustrations from Bach’s Fourth Brandenburg Concerto, Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 in C Major and The Marriage of Figaro, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 102.

The decline of classical music at the end of the eighteenth century is tied to Beethoven’s innovations and the Romantic movement, and Bernstein conducts Beethoven’s Egmont Overture.


Part 2 What is Melody?

Plot: Bernstein discusses the different forms melody can take, including tune, theme, motive, melodic line and musical phrase. He illustrates by conducting the orchestra in excerpts from Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Hindemith, and Brahms.


Part 3 What is a Mode?

Plot: Bernstein discusses scales, intervals, and tones, and analyzes several pieces, including Debussy’s Fêtes, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, and music from the Kinks and the Beatles, to illustrate different modes.

An excerpt from Bernstein’s ballet Fancy Free is also performed.

 

January 18 in Music History

today

. 1835 ~ César Cui, Russian composer and music critic
More information about Cui

1841 ~ Alexis-Emmanuel Chabrier, French composer
More information about Chabrier

. 1913 ~ Danny Kaye (David Daniel Kaminski), Comedian, dancer, singer, actor, entertainer

. 1939 ~ Louis Armstrong and his orchestra recorded Jeepers Creepers on Decca Records. Satchmo lent his vocal talents to this classic jump tune.

. 1941 ~ Bobby Goldsboro, Singer

. 1941 ~ David Ruffin (Davis Eli Ruffin), Lead singer with The Temptations

. 1944 ~ ‘Legs’ Larry Smith, Drummer with The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and Bob Kerr’s Whoopee Band

. 1944 ~ The first jazz concert was held at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The stars of the concert were Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw, Roy Eldridge and Jack Teagarden. What a ticket!

. 1948 ~ Ted Mack came to television as “The Original Amateur Hour” debuted on the DuMont network. The program continued on different networks for a 22-year run on the tube. Teresa Brewer and Pat Boone got their start on this program.

. 1953 ~ Brett Hudson, Singer, comedian with Hudson Brothers

. 1958 ~ Leonard Bernstein began presenting his television series What does music mean?  The series ran for 53 programs.

. 1968 ~ Singer Eartha Kitt made headlines, as she got into a now-famous confrontation with Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, wife of the President of the United States, at a White House luncheon to discuss urban crime. Ms. Kitt told Lady Bird (the First Lady) that American youth were rebelling against the war in Vietnam, linking the crime rate with the war escalation. She had a lot to say and it definitely was not “C’est Si Bon”.

. 1986 ~ Dionne Warwick’s single for AID’s research, That’s What Friends are For, became her second #1 song on the music charts. Although Dionne had many hits in the 1960s, singing Burt Bacharach tunes like I Say a Little Prayer and Do You Know the Way to San Jose.

. 2017 ~ Roberta Peters, American operatic soprano (NY Met), died at the age of 86