Leonard Bernstein – A Genius Divided
One of the first US born conductors to receive worldwide fame, Leonard Bernstein is an exceptional composer and certainly not only due to The West Side Story. Instead of concentrating exclusively on his most famous work, Thomas von Steinaecker sets out to paint a complete picture of Bernstein. Thus, the documentary focusses on the American’s less known later works and on three compositions in particular: his Mass, the musical 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the great final opera A Quiet Place.
The film paints a vivid picture of the multitalented Bernstein, struggling with his role as composer and conductor, tackling the tension between successes and flops, between the politics of his time and his own liberal humanitarian claim. It looks back at Bernstein’s major achievements, such as his acclaimed conducting of Mahler and his involvement in the Young People’s Concerts, and it shows Bernstein’s work with young aspiring musicians as well as his political commitment. Joining the dots, Thomas von Steinaecker is creating a genuine portrait of Bernstein on his quest to his ultimate masterwork: the great American opera.