Bernstein Today

Fun Five: Jake Gyllenhaal’s Bernstein Biopic and the Hunt for a Latina Maria

This week in #Bernsteinat100: breaking news from Hollywood, an intimate journey “inside Bernstein’s brain”,  a cartoonist’s take on Candide, the hunt for a Latina Maria, and Barbara Haws’ top 10 treasures from the New York Philharmonic Archives. Enjoy!

1. Jake Gyllenhaal’s Bernstein Biopic, “The American”

Big news from Cannes this week: Jake Gyllenhaal will produce and star in a biopic about Leonard Bernstein, titled “The American.”

“Like many people, Leonard Bernstein found his way into my life and heart through ‘West Side Story’ when I was a kid,” Gyllenhaal said. “But as I got older and started to learn about the scope of his work, I began to understand the extent of his unparalleled contribution and the debt of gratitude modern American culture owes him.”

2. Touring Bernstein’s Brain

You might have heard something about an event called “Late Night with Leonard Bernstein,” hosted by Jamie Bernstein, that’s been making the rounds this year, visiting lucky towns around the United States. Music critic Peter Dobrin, who went to a recent performance in Philadelphia, walks us through what Jamie calls a “guided tour inside [her] father’s brain.”

One night in 1943, she tells us, Bernstein gets a knock on the door of his studio above Carnegie Hall, and it’s Jerome Robbins with an idea for a show about three sailors on leave in New York. It becomes Fancy Free and On the Town. We hear about Bernstein playing Copland’s “Piano Variations” at a birthday party for Copland. It’s New York City in the mid-20th century, and he hangs out with Betty Comden and Adolph Green…

3. Comically Candide

In advance of their summer production of Candide, Santa Fe Opera dug up a series of hilarious sketches by writer and illustrator Dylan Meconis, drawn in 2012 at an event for Portland Opera (parental warning: strong language in some cartoons). Here’s one that really captures the titular character’s innocence and enthusiasm:

This charming cartoon set is definitely not for the kids!

4. Spielberg’s “West Side Story” Remake Seeks Maria

NBC News’s Raul A. Reyes brings us inside the auditions for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming “West Side Story” remake, amid a nationwide talent hunt for a Latina actress.

5. 10 New York Philharmonic Archival Favorites

Barbara Haws, archivist at the New York Philharmonic, sees a lot of classical music paraphernalia in her day-to-day life. Recently, she chose 10 of her favorite items in the collection, and explained their significance. Among them: the program from Leonard Bernstein’s conducting debut, and a letter he sent to an irritated subscriber. Haws says,

I love the fact that the Philharmonic has saved all of its complaint letters. It is fascinating to see what behavior the audience found offensive 70 years ago that doesn’t seem to raise an eyebrow today. But this letter captures exactly how annoyed and exasperated Bernstein could be when subscribers complained about his programming.

Haws, set to retire this summer, has organized some of the most unique Bernstein at 100 events so far, including the “Mahler Grooves” Marathon.

More #Bernsteinat100
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