‘The Power of Music’ explores Leonard Bernstein’s life, Jewish identity and social activism
Oct. 1, 2018
Leonard Bernstein is headed back to Brandeis.
The exhibition “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music” will be on view from October 4 to November 20. Organized by the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, the exhibition includes artifacts and photographs — on loan from the composer’s family and other collections — that explore his life, Jewish identity and social activism. Additional materials from Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections document Bernstein’s time at Brandeis as a member of the music faculty and the Board of Trustees.
Audiences may be familiar with Bernstein’s works but not necessarily how his music was informed by the political and social crises of his day. Visitors will find an individual who expressed the restlessness, anxiety, fear and hope of an American Jew living through World War II and the Holocaust, Vietnam, and turbulent social change around the world.
Spingold Theater Center’s Dreitzer Gallery houses the main part of the exhibition, with additional materials in Slosberg Music Center and Shapiro Admissions Center.
Bernstein’s Boston roots and his years teaching at Brandeis are important to understanding his complex life, according to Brandeis University Professor Jonathan D. Sarna, NMAJH’s chief historian.
“He’s perhaps the only great American composer who heard his first serious music in a synagogue, Boston’s Congregation Mishkan Tefila,” Sarna said.
The Brandeis presentation of the exhibition is sponsored by the Office of the President and the Office of the Arts. Major support has been provided by Lisa B. Popowich and Jonathan B. Stein P’12; Robin Brooks ’57, F’12; Eric Green P’05, P’07; and Robert Safron ’66 and Lynda Safron. Cosponsors include the Dean of Arts and Sciences; Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; Brandeis Library; Schusterman Center for Israel Studies; Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry; Mandel Center for the Humanities; Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies; Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program; American Studies Program; Department of Mathematics; Department of Physics; Vice Provost for Research; International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life; and Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education. It was organized at Brandeis by Ingrid Schorr, director of Office of the Arts and by Ellen Smith, associate professor and director of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. Exhibition consultants: Kristin Parker and Hepzibah Rapoport ’12.