Leonard Bernstein was one of the most celebrated Jewish musicians of all time. The Museum and the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra presented this program exploring Leonard Bernstein’s remarkable legacy in Israel. 

Bernstein’s musical career in Israel began in 1947, when he first conducted a symphony in Tel Aviv for the Palestine Symphony Orchestra. The next year, he conducted an open-air concert for Israeli troops in the middle of the desert during Israel’s War of Independence, within earshot of retreating Egyptian forces. Over the next several decades, he went on to conduct and perform in dozens of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s concerts, including leading their first American tour.

This program featured a screening of Leonard Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic, a new short film commissioned by American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic that tracks the decades-long relationship between the maestro and the Orchestra. The film includes interviews, archival images, and special video footage, and is hosted by playwright, actor, and pianist Hershey Felder.

After the film concluded, the program featured a panel discussion between Bernstein’s son Alex Bernstein; Danielle Ames Spivak, Executive Vice President and CEO of American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic; and Ivy Weingram, curator of the exhibition Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music.

Watch the panel discussion below.

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