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Over the next decades, Bernstein conducted many of the world’s greatest orchestras, including the Boston Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic, of which he served as the first American-born music director from 1958 to 1969. His warm personality, engaging public manner, and dynamic style at the podium drew large and devoted audiences to his concerts. Millions also learned about music, from standard repertory to experimental styles and jazz, through his radio broadcasts, televised lectures, young people’s concerts with the New York Philharmonic, and from his books on music. He was a particularly effective spokesman for music by American composers, which he programmed frequently. Like John Kennedy, a friend with whom he shared liberal political views, Bernstein embodied a particular image of the American character through his energetic enthusiasm, engaging freshness, photogenic good looks, and ability to communicate with all kinds of people.

Bernstein’s creative output was wide-ranging, from major concert-hall, chamber, vocal music and opera to scores for film, dance and Broadway musicals. He drew upon many musical styles, fusing elements from popular music and jazz with traditional art music practices. His own Jewish heritage finds voice in the thematic material of several important works, including the two symphonies subtitled Jeremiah and Kaddish. But he believed music was an international language and strove to transcend boundaries and reconcile differences through his work as a musician. In his own words, “I count the artist to be a citizen, a politic contributor to the art of living together in this lovely land and on this trembling planet.” Among Bernstein’s best-known works are Mass, which was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington in 1971; the film score for On the Waterfront; the comic opera Candide; and the musicals Wonderful Town and West Side Story. The latter opened in 1957 at the Winter Garden Theater and was Bernstein’s greatest Broadway success.

Cage, john (1912–1992)

John Cage was born in Los Angeles. By the time he was in his mid-twenties, he was at the forefront of experimental music both as a composer and as an exponent of new concepts in music. His originality as a thinker may be attributable in part to the fact that his father was an inventor. Cage was not the follower of any “school” of composition. Although he studied privately with Arnold Schoenberg and was a student in his music theory courses at UCLA, Cage’s later music would transcend the total control implied by Schoenberg’s serial techniques in favor of a music free of intention, memory, and personal likes and dislikes. Indeed, Cage’s notions about the materials and experience of music were equally shaped by his study of Zen Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies as they were by his study of the compositional methods of Schoenberg and the music of Anton Webern. Contact with the music of non-Western cultures was also important in the formation of Cage’s style. In the words of Henry Cowell, a pioneering American composer and theorist whose example profoundly influenced Cage, “the future progress for composers of the Western world must inevitably go toward the exploration and integration of elements drawn from more than one of the world’s cultures.”

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Source:  OpenStax, Music appreciation: its language, history and culture. OpenStax CNX. Jun 03, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11803/1.1
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