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October 14, 2010

Remembering 20th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's death

I've gone on and on and on about Leonard Bernstein before on this blog, most recently in August, so I really will keep it short this time. It's just that I couldn't let pass the 20th anniversary of the conductor/composer's death go unmentioned.

When word came on Oct. 14, 1990, that Bernstein had died, the loss seemed so enormous. There was no doubt his like would not be seen or heard again.

I couldn't decide on a musical sample to mark the occasion -- so many choices -- but then I came across this clip of a 1992 Richard Tucker Gala that closed with the finale to Bernstein's "Candide," introduced in her inimitable style by the divine Leontyne Price. The soloists are a pre-superstar Renee Fleming and a fine singer no longer with us, Jerry Hadley. Leontyne and a whole bunch of other notable vocal artists join in as the music unfolds, and something about the soaring sound suggested that it would be fit Thursday's anniversary.

It's not the tidiest performance, perhaps, but it sure does convey the Bernstein spirit:

Posted by Tim Smith at 8:01 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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