Download The Leonard Bernstein Letters Audiobook

The Leonard Bernstein Letters Audiobook, by Nigel Simeone Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Nigel Simeone Narrator: George Guidall Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2014 ISBN: 9781478985303
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Leonard Bernstein was a charismatic and versatile musician—a brilliant conductor who attained international superstar status and a gifted composer of Broadway musicals (West Side Story), symphonies (Age of Anxiety), choral works (Chichester Waterfront), and much more. Bernstein was also an enthusiastic letter writer, and this audiobook is the first to present a wide-ranging selection of his correspondence. The letters have been selected for the insights they offer into the passions of his life—musical and personal—and the extravagant scope of his musical and extra-musical activities. Bernstein’s letters tell much about this complex man, his collaborators, his mentors, and others close to him. His galaxy of correspondents encompassed, among others, Aaron Copland, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Robbins, Thornton Wilder, Boris Pasternak, Bette Davis, Adolph Green, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and family members including his wife Felicia and his sister Shirley. The majority of these letters have never been published before. They have been carefully chosen to demonstrate the breadth of Bernstein’s musical interests, his constant struggle to find the time to compose, his turbulent and complex sexuality, his political activities, and his endless capacity for hard work. Beyond the legends: his humanity, warmth, volatility, intellectual brilliance, wonderful eye for descriptive detail, and humor.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Bernstein’s versatility and ambition were such that he spent a lot of time trying to figure out who he was—which also meant searching for American music and for the future of music generally. This book doesn’t resolve Bernstein’s quest. But it’s an invaluable resource, and the quest itself continues to fascinate and to matter.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Exhaustive, thrilling, [and] indispensable.”

    USA Today

  • “With their intellectual brilliance, humor and wonderful eye for detail, Leonard Bernstein’s letters blow all biographies out of the water. His galaxy of correspondents includes Stephen Sondheim, Boris Pasternak and Jacqueline Kennedy. Full of fresh information and the authentic voice of a constant seeker.”

    Economist (London)

  • “His collaborator Betty Comden once noted, in a letter to Bernstein, that he saved ‘every scrap of correspondence.’ You will be grateful…a rich collection of letters to and from Bernstein, filled with revelations about his musical and personal lives.”

    New York Times

  • “Bernstein emerges as highly literate, compassionate, astonishingly busy, and gifted almost beyond measure.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A rich selection…Alive with spontaneous intelligence, Leonard Bernstein’s letters display exactly this unforced intimacy, though there were moments when he no doubt knew that posterity was listening in.”

    Times Literary Supplement (London)

  • “His letters have a tremendous zest and a good journalistic eye, too, and since he was often at the right place at the right time, at some of the key moments in his twentieth-century history, this gives them a wider interest.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “A volume of letters might seem a risky choice for an audiobook—will it hold your attention over time without a narrative through line? The answer is a resounding yes, followed by many bravos. Narrator George Guidall has to catch the personality behind each letter (these are both from and to Bernstein) and understand if the writer is serious or being ironic, an acquaintance or an intimate. He has to know when Bernstein writes ‘I love you’ to Aaron Copland, how differently he means it than when writing to, say, Judy Holliday…Guidall makes this treasure trove intimate, lively, funny, moving, and utterly fascinating. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice

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About the Author

Nigel Simeone is well known as a writer and speaker on music and is the author of several books including Leonard Bernstein: West Side Story. He lives in Northamptonshire, England.

About the Narrator

George Guidall, winner of more than eighty AudioFile Earphones Awards, has won three of the prestigious Audie Award for Excellence in Audiobook Narration. In 2014 the Audio Publishers Association presented him with the Special Achievement Award for lifetime achievement/ During his thirty-year recording career he has recorded over 1,700 audiobooks, won multiple awards, been a mentor to many narrators, and shown by example the potential of fine storytelling. His forty-year acting career includes starring roles on Broadway, an Obie Award for best performance off Broadway, and frequent television appearances.