Overview and Photos | Letters | Working Notes
Bernstein wrote this letter to Helen Coates (his former piano teacher) from Tanglewood on July 26, 1940:
So glad to you're better and in Concord. I have a great desire to see people happy when I am so happy myself. The Thompson was a great success, the Bach Double Concerto last week well liked, even very well liked. Tomorrow night I conduct Schéhérzade!
I think the best time for you to come would be the 6th week, when I am doing the marvelous Brahms Variations or a Theme of Haydn. I'm very excited about them, and I'd love you to hear them. As far as I know, that concert will be Tuesday night, August 12 (?) . . . .
Koussevitzky seems to like me more all the time. He now wants me to study with him this winter in Boston. He said today that I will certainly be the greatest (!) conductor if only I will work hard 3 yearsthat's all. He wants to mold me, etc. He says I have everything for itof course, I have my usual reaction of self-abasement & get slightly depressed by that sort of confidence, but it's so wonderful here that I disregard it, & work, not even thinking of the horror of conscription that seems to be looming in the fall. No matterI must work while I can.
This in haste.
Best wishes to mother
Take care of yourself
Bernstein wrote this letter to Serge Koussevitzky in August 1940, after returning home to Sharon, Massachusetts following his first summer at Tanglewood:
Dear Dr. Koussevitzky:
Words are a remote enough medium of expression for any musician but it is especially difficult for me to find words for this letter. Let it be brief.
This summer to me was beautybeauty in work, and strength of purpose, and coperation. I am full of humility and gratitude for having shared so richly in it. These last six weeks have been the happiest and most productive of my life. I have been able, for the first time, to concentrate completely one my main purpose, with a glorious freedom from personal problems.
It was a renaissance for me- a rehabilitation of the twisted and undefined weltanschauung with which I came to you.
For your creative energy, your instinct for truth, your incredible incorporation of teacher and artist, I give humble thanks. Seeing in you my own concepts matured is a challenge to me which I hope to fulfill in your great spirit.
I am now at home, resting with my family. I hope to be in Lenox within the next few weeks, and I should like very much to see you and talk with you. Can you let me know when this would be best for you!
Please give my very warm greetings to Madame Koussevitsky and to Miss Naumoff.
In devotion, and gratitude.
This letter was written by a young musician studying at Tanglewood on a fellowship made possible by Bernstein:
Dear Mr. Bernstein,
The Berkshire Music Center recently informed me that my summer fellowship was made possible by your generosity. I am greatly honored to have received this particular fellowship because of the special privilege I had earlier this summer of singing "Tristan und Isolde" with you at Tanglewood and in Philadelphia.
This is my second summer as a fellowship student at Tanglewood; my life has been changed by its unique ambiance and variety of music-making. This is a wonderful place to grow musicallyeach day brings new joys and insights into the world of music.
I thank you for your generosity in providing this experience which is so precious to me. I am eternally grateful to you.
This letter was written in 1977 by a young flutist in gratitude to Bernstein for giving her the opportunity to spend the summer at the Tangelwood Festival:
Dear Mr. Bernstein,
I can't thank you enough for enabling me to go to Tanglewood this summer. It has been one of the most important summers of my life, because I was able to concentrate fully on music, without the outside pressures of the Real World. During this process, I decided to pursue an orchestral career more definitely (I almost entered law school this year).
Perhaps some day I can repay you or donate a Fellowship myself. In any case, I am deeply indebted and very grateful for what you have done. In case you didn't know, the Tristan concert turned out to be the best orchestra concert of this summer; the most electric & the most satisfying.
Something I can offer you is a glimpse of the most beautiful spot in Calif., in case you haven't been thereto Carmelplease call us anytime and we can lend you a friend's house . . . .
Once again, thank you for your generous help.
Serge Koussevitzky (music director of the Boston Symphony and founder of the Tanglewood Festival) wrote this letter to the young Bernstein from his home in Lenox on September 5, 1940:
Thank you for your letter.
Nothing could have made me happier than to know that your work this summer has really given you beauty and strength and a better understanding of the gifts with which nature has endowed you.
I shall be glad to see you sometime during the middle of the month,
let us say Tuesday, the 17th, or Wednesday, the 18th,cand I shall look forward to your coming to Lenox.
My best wishes are with you always.