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Jewish museum show explores life of conductor Leonard Bernstein and how he touched people's lives

COURTESY: OJMCHE - On Leonard Bernstein, curator Bob Santelli said: 'There's never been a man in American culture who was so well-rounded and had so many genius traits.'

The late, great American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein touched many people's lives.

And now, a worldwide celebration comes to Portland with the aptly named "Leonard Bernstein at 100" retrospective exhibition at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, 724 N.W. Davis St.

It opens Thursday, Oct. 3, and shows through Jan. 26, with photographs, personal items, papers, scores, correspondence, costumes, furniture, films and more of the composer, conductor, educator, humanitarian and cultural ambassador who died Oct. 14, 1990.

The exhibit is curated by the Grammy Museum of Los Angeles in collaboration with The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and the Bernstein Family. The exhibit has been shown in seven places, the last one in Portland.

"We preach to the choir in this exhibit, but more importantly we're anxious to bring new people, young people and students to the world of Leonard Bernstein," said Bob Santelli, exhibition curator and founding executive director of the Grammy Museum.

"People like him come along every two generations. He's that brilliant, and a source of inspiration. There's never been a man in American culture who was so well-rounded and had so many genius traits."

Born Aug. 25, 1918, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Bernstein became perhaps the most celebrated U.S.-born composer and conductor in the world and, of course, a cherished member of the Jewish American community.

More than 5,000 events worldwide have been part of the "Leonard Bernstein at 100" celebration.

At the exhibit, visitors can see many artifacts, including Bernstein's baton, his first childhood piano, a desk used to compose his famous work, "West Side Story," and handwritten score sheets for songs from the production that include "Tonight" and "Maria."

There also are home movies, Grammy performances, interviews with contemporaries and colleagues, clips of stage works, segments from Bernstein's Young People's Concerts and New York Philharmonic performances.

Some associated events: "Story Swap, In Terms of Music," musicians talking about Bernstein, 7 p.m. Oct. 16; "45th Parallel Universe," Bernstein chamber music, 7 p.m. Oct. 22-23; Bravo Youth Orchestra concert, with appearance by daughter Jamie Bernstein, 2 p.m. Nov. 10; A Talk With Jamie Bernstein, about her memoir "Famous Father Girl," 7 p.m. Nov. 17.


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