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'Leonard Bernstein at 100' offers a comprehensive look at the legendary musician and activist

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The Skirball Museum's new exhibit "Leonard Bernstein at 100" archives artifacts and documents from all parts of the famous composer's life and career.

Leonard Bernstein — legendary composer, conductor and educator — was born 100 years ago.

Bernstein came of age at a time when most major symphonies in the United States were not actually led by Americans. He changed that when he became the principal conductor and music director of the New York Philharmonic. Through his young people’s concerts on TV he taught generations of kids about classical music.

Even though he worked largely in the context of classical music, Bernstein popularity reached rock star status. His compositions for orchestras and in musical theater — especially his percussive work on “West Side Story” — still sound thoroughly modern, decades after they were written. 

Leonard Bernstein died in 1990. Now, an exhibit celebrating his legacy has just opened at the Skirball Cultural Center.

The Frame's John Horn spoke with the installation's curator Robert Santelli, who also happens to the founding executive director of the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles. 

"Leonard Bernstein at 100" will be at the Skirball through September 2nd. 

Bernstein's FBI Dossier donated by his family. Bernstein was heavily involved in various liberal movements throughout his life. He was a staunch opposer of the Vietnam War and cultivated friendships with members of the Black Panthers.
The Frame
Bernstein's FBI Dossier donated by his family. Bernstein was heavily involved in various liberal movements throughout his life. He was a staunch opposer of the Vietnam War and cultivated friendships with members of the Black Panthers.
A singing booth dedicated to West Side Story, where visitors can sing along to 'America.'
The Frame
A singing booth dedicated to West Side Story, where visitors can sing along to 'America.'
Clips from Bernstein's acclaimed 1957 musical, "West Side Story," which marked the apex of his career.
The Frame
Clips from Bernstein's acclaimed 1957 musical, "West Side Story," which marked the apex of his career.
The piano (borrowed from Brandeis University) on which Bernstein learned to play and cultivated his love of music.
The Frame
The piano (borrowed from Brandeis University) on which Bernstein learned to play and cultivated his love of music.
Bernstein's baton that Gustavo Dudamel used while performing in New York. Like Bernstein, Dudamel was a very passionate, physical performer – to the point where he broke the baton mid-concert.
The Frame
Bernstein's baton that Gustavo Dudamel used while performing in New York. Like Bernstein, Dudamel was a very passionate, physical performer – to the point where he broke the baton mid-concert.

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