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National Press Club Luncheon Speakers

Leonard Bernstein, October 13, 1959

Image: Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein, October 13, 1959. News Associates, Inc. Library of Congress, Music Division

On the day after the New York Philharmonic Orchestra returned home from a ten-week performance tour of cities within Western Europe, Soviet-bloc nations, and the Near East, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), the orchestra’s music director, delivered an extemporaneous talk and answered reporters’ questions at a National Press Club luncheon that attracted an audience of some 500 people. The Philharmonic had played 50 concerts in 17 countries—including three weeks in the Soviet Union—during the tour, which had been sponsored by the President’s Special International Program for Cultural Presentations. The tour—Bernstein called it a “mission of friendship”—occurred during a period of cultural exchange that many hoped would facilitate a thawing of tensions between Cold War rivals.... More [PDF; 111 KB]

Timings (hh:mm:ss)

Introductions: 00:00-06:46
Speech: 06:47-22:34
Q & A: 22:34-55:13

Topics of the Talk

  • Press and Newspapers in the Soviet Union: 07:46-11:17
  • New York Philharmonic State Department Tour of Europe and the Soviet Union: 15:30-19:53
  • Connections through Music: 19:53-21:20
  • Political Support of the Tour and International Benefits: 21:20-22:34
  • Longevity of Rock and Roll Music: 23:31-25:06
  • Nationalistic Personality of Music Based on National Language: 25:15-28:48
  • Women Musicians in Symphony Orchestras: 29:32-30:52
  • Modern Russian Music’s Connection to Czarist Tradition or to Communist Culture: 30:52-38:11
  • West Side Story and American Freedom of Artistic Expression: 38:55-46:44; 51:55-52:37
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  October 17, 2016
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