This is a fascinating account of Leonard Bernstein’s life from his birth until his debut as a conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1943 at the age of 25. Bernstein had a lot going against him in his desire to be a musician and conductor. His father, a Russian immigrant, was adamantly opposed to the idea. He wanted his son in a stable, reliable job – working for him selling machines that would give women permanent waves. From the beginnings of his life, however Lenny just wanted to make music. Becoming a conductor seemed an almost impossible dream because at the time all of the important conductors in America were born and trained in Europe. Lenny, however persevered and when the guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic became ill, he was asked to fill in. His performance was so successful that it was never again in doubt that he would be a famous conductor. Bernstein went on to conduct and compose music, both classical and contemporary (including West Side Story).
This is not a book that I would hand to any kid, but it is perfect for the student who is committed to music. It would also be good for the child who has a lot of obstacles to face in order to achieve a dream. It’s an excellent read.