I happened to be reading New York Magazine yesterday and came across an interview with actor Alec Baldwin. Baldwin is a great fan of classical music and was just named announcer for the New York Philharmonic’s weekly radio broadcast. Discussing his passions, the conversation turned to pianist/composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein is interred at Green-Wood up on Battle Hill, just off Liberty Path. His gravestone ranks up there with Jean Michel Basquiat, the painter and Andy Warhol protege, as our most-visited graves. Bernstein, the most famous musician of his time, was born in 1918 and died in 1990. Nineteen years later, he is still revered throughout the world. But, a generation is alive today that was born after Bernstein died. For many of them, sadly, his name means nothing. Here’s the part of Erica Orden’s interview of Baldwin that’s about Bernstein: But he’s stuck on Bernstein. Back in his dressing room, he calls up a YouTube clip of Bernstein conducting and performing Rhapsody in Blue.
“Oh my God. Oh, my God. You can watch so much great stuff,” he says of YouTube’s classical offerings. Baldwin says he hopes to “get out of the way of the music,” as a host, before launching into color commentary. “He’s conducting them while he’s playing! And now he’s down. And now he’s up!. They’re not showing enough of him.” . . . . On the little screen, Bernstein’s letting loose now, swerving across his piano bench, and Baldwin seems to lose himself in the clip. “Look at this guy! Like he’s Billy Joel! Look at him. He’s in ecstacy!” He begins to pound his fingers on the desk in time to Bernstein’s playing. “Look at the hair! He’s like a rock star. I hate that phrase. I hate it, but can count on one hand how many non-rock stars that really applies to, and this guy is one.” He’s still pounding, and the desk is beginning to shake ever so slightly. “Look at him!” For the YouTube video Baldwin mentions.