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.
Watch the Israel Philharmonic’s Online Chamber Music Series
During COVID-19 pandemic, the Israel Philharmonic created a series of online concerts filmed in the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv. Watch all ten concerts here.
Discover the Israel Philharmonic’s History
Bronislaw Haberman, a renowned Polish Jewish violinist, established the Palestine Orchestra in 1936. Against a backdrop of rising Nazism, Huberman persuaded 75 of the world’s finest Jewish musicians from major orchestras across Europe to emigrate to Palestine and join the Orchestra. His efforts are believed to have saved nearly 1,000 lives. Learn more in this Museum blog post.
Explore the Leonard Bernstein Exhibition
Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music was curated by Ivy Weingram in 2018. The exhibition, which opened at the National Museum of American Jewish History, chronicled Bernstein’s life through the lens of his Jewish identity. Explore a virtual tour of the exhibition here.