Fritz Reiner, while a major influence, did not create as much of an emotional impact on Lenny—not as compared with the effect of [Dimitri] Mitropoulos and [Serge] Koussevitzky on him.
Still, Bernstein learned a tremendous amount from Reiner, who was tough and demanding. No standard was too high.
He early imprinted on Lenny’s mind the axiom that unless one really knew every last note of a score, one had no business standing on the podium in front of an orchestra. Lenny told me that Reiner was ruthless in his quizzing, that nothing was good enough, that no one was ever good enough.
Bernstein nevertheless managed to become the Liebling [German, “darling”] of his class, much to the consternation of other Curtis [Institute, Philadelphia] students.
It was at Curtis that Bernstein first conducted an orchestra. While Fritz Reiner regularly directed the Institute’s student orchestra, he occasionally allowed his students to have a try at it.
Lenny describes his first conducting experience as unforgettable. “It was Brahm’s Third, first movement,” he told me.
“I went mad! I was engulfed in a sea of sound! I was not prepared for this. It came at me with such rushes, and I was conducting like a mad, mad… like a dying swimmer in the ocean. Engulfed in a hurricane of sound! It’s incredible the first time. No one can know what it’s like to stand in an orchestra. I’m sure I was just horrible. But that was the first time for me.”
Gruen, John (Author) and Ken Heyman (Photographer). The Private World of Leonard Bernstein. New York: The Viking Press, 1968. 53. Print.
I’m not pointing the finger at anyone who has cosmetic surgery, but I did hear one reason why maybe it’s not such a great idea. It came from George Orwell, who once remarked, “After the age of forty, a man is responsible for his face.”
In other words, if you’re young, whether you’re good-looking or not is just the luck of the draw.
But as you get older, your face begins to show the world what sort of person you are because whatever your habitual expressions are—kind, cheerful, mournful, embittered—they start etching themselves on to your face. So then, your face starts telling people what sort of a human you are.
Allowing this to happen may be what people mean by the phrase “growing old gracefully.”
So if you’re beautiful as you get older, it’s not a free gift. It’s because your face shows qualities that are timeless and that we all admire: strength, kindness, dedication, wisdom, enthusiasm and humor, intelligence, compassion. Now those faces are achievements.
“Part Three: Beauty.” Hosted by John Cleese. The Human Face. BBC. 21 Mar. 2001.
“What I have here is the result of a lifetime of collecting. There is no relationship between the things themselves—except that I like them. You know how American women choose to wear a dress and invest it with their own spirit: I admire that sort of philosophy, and when I collect things, I choose how they are going to look in my life. The way I decorated here was to surround myself with the things I love… and they all have great dignity.”
* * *
“He had a very personal point of view about decorating; his rooms were filled with objects and furniture that appealed to him. He put them together in a way that reflected his self-assured style. Then he’d say, ‘Forget about it.’ He had a nonchalant attitude.”
—Tom Fallon, New York fashion executive
Moonan, Wendy. “ANTIQUES; A Décor Collection, From Bill Blass.” The New York Times. 17 Oct. 2003.
There is almost a natural law operative: the more you want something, the less chance you have of getting it. Actress Lauren Bacall has described this “natural law” quite perceptively:
“I think you can want something a lot and not get it. But if you stop thinking about it, the chances of getting it are greater. Somehow if you’re unfocused on it, that’s when it comes to you. When you’re searching for something desperately, that’s when you don’t find it. Desperation does not make us attractive to other people.”
O’Brien, Patricia. The Woman Alone. New York: Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., 1973. 123–24. Print.
“I wanted to sing. I thought I was going to be a singer. And I did everything I could to be a singer. I had tons of fantasies. I still have aspirations.”
AL: What I meant to ask you about is how you commemorate people when you’re not doing a show.
PS: Oh, daily. I mean I’ve lost so many people that I love. Robert Mapplethorpe was my best friend, I lost my young pianist, my brother, my husband, my parents, so many people in my life that I just find myself remembering them, sometimes writing about them, writing poems for them, saying prayers for them, or sometimes just talking with them.
I still consult my mother for guidance and my husband when I’m working on something like a visual project or a photograph and I have trouble. I often think of what Robert would say.
We can seek guidance from our departed, you know, as long as we listen. It’s a matter of listening. So, it’s not necessarily a dramatic thing or a sad thing, it’s just a part of my daily practice.
Sometimes in my travels I see a lot of churches. I really like to sit in churches, and if they have candles, I’ll light candles for everyone from my father to our ailing cat. It’s just integrated in my life. It’s not connected with any particular religion or anything, it’s just something that I do.
Levitt, Aimee. “Patti Smith discusses art, remembrance, and detective shows.” Chicago Reader. 27 Oct. 2014.