Bernstein on Jazz

From 1954 to 1958, American conductor, composer, author, and pianist Leonard Bernstein produced and hosted a series of television lectures on music. These lectures covered such wide-ranging topics as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, American Musical Comedy, Modern Music, and of course, Conducting.

One of the most popular (and legendary) of these lectures was titled, “What Is Jazz?” First aired in 1955, “What Is Jazz?” was a surprisingly succinct overview of jazz music that explored elements of blues, Dixieland, ragtime, and other jazz forms.

The resulting program offered insights not only into jazz as music, but jazz as a musical process—for the uninitiated and for the already “hip.” “What Is Jazz?” was so popular, audio of the program was released on LP the following year.

In this hour, we’ll bring you the full audio of Leonard Bernstein’s “What Is Jazz?” And, we’ll hear a live performance of W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” by Bernstein and Louie Armstrong.

That’s all coming up this hour on our presentation of Bernstein on Jazz, on 90.3.

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