I’ve written before, and must say again, that I truly enjoyed (and learned a lot) reading Alex Ross’s book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, but Alex Ross. But someone does have a negative thing to say:

Jamie Bernstein: OUCH: that damn Radical Chic thing is the albatross around our family’s weary neck. To think that my father wandered into an event he had nothing to do with…! It was my mother’s fund-raiser for the Panther 21, who had been jailed on totally trumped-up charges concocted by the FBI, as we found out years later through the Freedom of Information Act. The judge eventually tossed the whole case right out of his court. But meanwhile, the defendants’ families needed to be fed — hence my mother’s fundraiser, which was crashed by a) Charlotte Curtis, society editor of the NYT; b) Tom Wolfe, writing for the infant New York Magazine — there had specifically been no press invited to the event; and c) my father, who burst in all cranked up from his “Fidelio” rehearsal at the Met, and took over the room, as was his wont … and the rest is dreck. We also found out through the Freedom of Information Act that all those Jewish Defense League guys, picketing outside our building after Charlotte Curtis wrote her pissy little editorial in the Times, were — you guessed it — FBI plants. What an awful time that was.

But to answer your question: look, some people say Bernstein should have spent more time composing operas. Others say he should have written more Broadway shows. Still others think he should have been conducting exclusively. But looking back on it now, aren’t we just plain amazed by the body of work Leonard Bernstein produced in his 72 years?! The concerts, the recordings, the home videos, the television shows, the educational projects, the books, the humanitarian work — and all his extraordinary compositions! We have it all to enjoy and admire. Why be churlish and say he should have done more of this and less of that? We should all be lucky enough to produce a quarter of the worthy goods my dad gave the world — and that goes for Alex Ross too. “Experts agreed…”? Please.

The speaker? Jamie Bernstein.


  1. what is it that JB s responding to?

  2. nevermind found it

  3. 🙂

    (I probably should have explained more, eh? But the link will give everyone the info they need.)