Bernstein Today

Warner Classics Celebrates Bernstein Centenary with 7-CD Collection, “An American in Paris”

Leonard Bernstein loved Paris, and Paris loved Bernstein right back. There’s a street named after him in the 12th arrondissement, and the Philharmonie de Paris has dedicated several concert programs to celebrating #Bernsteinat100.

In 1976, Bernstein took the New York Philharmonic on tour throughout Europe, and the final stop was a June 18th performance in Paris. The New York Times review of the concert began,

It is rare to hear George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” in Paris, and it was all the more extraordinary to hear it last night under a big circus tent in the middle of the Tuileries gardens, with lights twinkling and lovers sighing at a summer fair.

That concert was just one facet of Bernstein’s love affair with Paris, however. Throughout the 1970s, he conducted the Orchestre National de France, a relationship that Warner Classics is now celebrating with a new album release this month.

On the eve of Bernstein’s birthday, August 25, Warner Classics pays tribute to the consummate American composer, conductor, educator, and pianist with a 7-CD box set called An American in Paris — featuring never-before-released live performance and rehearsal recordings of Bernstein himself at the podium and the piano.

This 7-CD set is the fruit of the love affair that developed in Paris between Leonard Bernstein and the Orchestre National de France in the 1970s. Beside long-admired studio recordings, featuring Mstislav Rostropovich and Alexis Weissenberg among the soloists, it presents live performances completely new to the catalogue: a 1975 programme to celebrate Ravel’s centenary – with Bernstein himself as soloist in the G major piano concerto – and orchestral suites taken from two of Bernstein’s most celebrated and brilliant works, both infused with jazz: the film score On the Waterfront and the landmark Broadway musical West Side Story.
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