Leonard Bernstein – The Composer

A most intimate and surprising portrait of someone who the whole world thinks they know.

  • Leonard Bernstein autograph © 3B Produktion – Büro für bewegtes Bild

His performances as a conductor are still legendary. Its recordings bestsellers. With the "West Side Story“ he composed one of the most successful musicals of all times. Nevertheless, in the last two decades of his life, the fact that he is only being noticed as the conductor and composer of long-gone hits, brings him close to his breaking point. On top of this artistic crisis comes an existential one: for over 25 years the public perceives him as being happily married to his wife Felicia. But Bernstein leads a double-life for decades. On the one hand father of a picture-book family and subject of many features portraying his private life. On the other the homosexual, who needed to live out his inclinations in secret in a puritan America.

Leonard Bernstein – a 20th century genius and his own brand. The man behind the image comes alive by way of his music, in private archive material and a recording from the production of "A quiet place“ at Vienna, which was performed under the baton of Bernstein himself in 1986. We get to meet his children and close colleagues. We will come across the never-before shown archival footage from Bernstein’s late "Wagner“ project. His long-standing assistant Michael Barret explains to us sitting at the piano, what constitutes the specific Bernstein sound. And the US journalist Alex Ross highlights the almost prophetic significance of Bernstein’s eclectic style which now is prevalent, but which was fiercely criticized back then.