featured on these lists

All Listed Works earsense supplement
Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

Nationality: American | Jewish
Born: August 25, 1918, Lawrence, MA Died: October 14, 1990, New York, NY (age 72)

Piano Trio

(for violin, cello and piano)
7:26 I. Adagio non troppo - Allegro vivace - Largamente
3:30 II. Tempo di marcia
4:37 III. Largo - Allegro vivo e molto ritmico
Duration: 16 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1937 (age 18-19)
Published: 1979 (age 60-61)
3 recordings, 7 videos
autoopen autoplay
7:43
Morgenstern Trio
I. Adagio non troppo - Allegro vivace - Largamente
3:32
Morgenstern Trio
II. Tempo di marcia
4:51
Morgenstern Trio
III. Largo - Allegro vivo e molto ritmico
7:08
Ensemble Avalon
I. Adagio non troppo - Allegro vivace - Largamente
3:27
Ensemble Avalon
II. Tempo di marcia
4:23
Ensemble Avalon
III. Largo - Allegro vivo e molto ritmico
16:06
Australian Piano trio
From Kai Christiansen

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

Piano Trio (1937)

Leonard Bernstein was a multi-dimensional force of nature in the world of American music as a conductor, composer, educator, pianist and media figure straddling the worlds of popular and classical music from Broadway to Carnegie Hall. He was one of the first American conductors to achieve international fame as well as the first non-European to become director of the New York Philharmonic. One important legacy of Bernstein's conducting career was his promotion of Mahler with two complete recorded symphony cycles largely responsible for establishing Mahler's contemporary reputation. Bernstein's legendary televised "Young People's Concerts" introduced an entire generation to music appreciation. Bernstein as a composer will most likely be remembered for his dramatic theatrical works such as On the Town, Candide and West Side Story, but his "serious" classical compositions include incidental and ballet music, three symphonies, a concertante serenade and chamber music.

Bernstein's first published work was the sonata for clarinet and piano from 1942. But several years earlier in 1937, a 19-year-old Bernstein attending Walter Piston's composition class at Harvard composed what some have called his true "Opus 1", a three-movement piano trio eventually published over forty years later in 1979. Though Bernstein categorized it as "juvenilia", it is a compelling work full of confidence, energy and some sophistication if not possibly some foreshadowing of Bernstein's more mature oeuvre.

The first movement is a rather ambitious (and effective) essay in counterpoint featuring three different short themes weaving violin, cello and piano into imitative textures propelled by rhythmic drive and sparkling figurations to an exciting climax featuring a formal fugue roughly in the manner of Bach. Some have suggested this was Bernstein proving to his professor he knew how to write a proper fugue after a prior incident of criticism in the classroom.

The second movement marked "Tempo di marcia" is a jocular set of variations on a tuneful pizzicato theme with "blues" notes that not only suggests Bernstein's familiar style but was actually repurposed for "On the Town." The variations are full of scherzando syncopations sounding "jazzy" and "American" on one hand and a bit like the neo-classical hijinks of Prokofiev or Stravinsky on the other.

The finale begins rather neatly with an atmospheric slow introduction reprising the first movement's fugal theme. The main part of the last movement launches into a modal theme sounding somewhat like an Eastern European folk song with a Gypsy accelerando. The subsequent music shimmers with pulsing rhythmic energy one might associate with American music of time from the likes of Walter Piston or, more famously, Aaron Copland who eventually became Bernstein's mentor and his primary teacher of composition.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Related Composers

WWI WWII Aaron Copland (1900-1990) Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Teacher
Nationality: American | Jewish
Born: November 14, 1900, Brooklyn Died: December 2, 1990, North Tarrytown (age 90)