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September 12, 2018

LEONARD BERNSTEIN AND THE PERILS OF HERO WORSHIP:

His charisma was indeed potent, but as Bernstein recedes into history he seems more a product of his time than an agent of transformation. He came of age in the New Deal era, when the federal government sank hundreds of millions of dollars into the arts. He benefitted from the cultural politics of the Cold War, even as he suffered under McCarthyism. He launched music-appreciation projects on television at a time when network executives considered Stravinsky’s serialist score “The Flood,” with choreography by Balanchine, suitable for a mass public. The aspirational America of the mid-twentieth century was looking for a Bernstein—a native genius who could knock off Broadway tunes as fluently as he conducted Brahms—and one was duly found. There will not be another, not because talent is lacking but because the culture that fostered him is gone.

Yes, and the left worked very hard to destroy it, an assault that Bernstein himself signed off on.