Historic Concerts

Leonard Bernstein's debut concert with the New York Philharmonic was a moment that made headlines – literally. From that first historic moment and throughout his career, Bernstein gave concerts that not only changed the way audiences heard and listened to music, but also celebrated great events in history, such as the end of the Six-day war in Israel and the reunification of Germany. We present a few such concerts and would enjoy hearing your stories of historic concerts by Bernstein that you may have attended.

The Debut Concert

Listen to Burton and Leonard Bernstein discuss the historic New York Philharmonic debut.
From: Leonard Bernstein: An American Life (A Steve Rowland & Larry Abrams Production). Available in the shop.
In what would prove to be one of Leonard Bernstein's last interviews, he reminisced about his conducting debut while speaking with his brother, Burton, who was preparing an article for Town & Country magazine on the occasion of Carnegie Hall's centennial in 1991. The interview took place in Fairfield, CT, on November 20, 1989. More...


Leonard Bernstein made musical history over and over throughout his lifetime, but only once did he also indirectly bring about unanticipated military history, when a concert of his put fear of a country's army into the armed forces of its enemy. More...

The Concert at Mt. Scopus

On July 9, 1967 Bernstein led the Israel Philharmonic in the newly-unified Jerusalem immediately after the Six-Day War. More...

Berlin "Ode to Freedom"

On Christmas Day 1989 Berlin (and soon the world) experienced something like a celestial gift: the "Ode to Freedom", a composite event, spread out over the centuries so to speak, by Schiller, Beethoven - and Leonard Bernstein. The occasion was to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall in a manner which would impress itself once and for all on people's minds. More...

Young People's Concerts

Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic stand among his greatest achievements. These televised programs introduced an entire generation to the joys of classical music. For more on these concerts, see the Young People's Concerts section.

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