From the Publisher
"...highly readable and inspiring..." - Booklist, starred review "An impeccably researched and told biography of Leonard Bernstein’s musical apprenticeship, from toddlerhood to his conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 25."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review "Rubin spins [Leonard Bernstein's] biography into a tale that reads as smoothly and compellingly as a novel."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
• A Junior Library Guild Selection
* Bulletin Blue Ribbon
* Carter G. Woodson Book Award (Middle Grade)
* National Jewish Book Award finalist
* NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
* Sydney Taylor Book Award
* YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults finalist
School Library Journal
Gr 5–10—Rubin's sparkling biography looks at one of the most influential and acclaimed composers/conductors in recent history and brings his story to vibrant, colorful life. Starting at age two and ending with his exalted New York Philharmonic conducting debut at age 25, the fascinating events of Bernstein's life are neatly organized into well-paced chapters. Rubin provides an unbiased, thoughtful, and well-researched account of how the virtuoso grew to become a musical icon, discussing his family life, musical education, and the trials and triumphs he encountered along the way. Photographs and primary documents such as sheet music, concert programs, and telegrams punctuate the presentation and enhance the lively narrative. Rubin's writing is clear and accessible enough for readers unfamiliar with Bernstein, but has enough information and anecdotes to satisfy the curiosities of even his most dedicated fans. There are few comparable biographies currently available for children or young adults. Jim Whiting's The Life and Times of Leonard Bernstein (Mitchell Lane, 2005) offers concise content, while Rubin's depiction has more heart and scope. Music Was It is an engrossing, warm, and comprehensive read, and should be considered an essential purchase for most libraries. All readers will appreciate Bernstein's story of proficiency, perseverance, and passion.—Rita Meade, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
An impeccably researched and told biography of Leonard Bernstein's musical apprenticeship, from toddlerhood to his conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 25. Rubin traces Lenny's education, musical influences and enduring friendships. Lenny reveled in mounting elaborate musical productions in Sharon, Mass., his family's summer community. As a student, he augmented support from his family by giving lessons, accompanying singers, transcribing music and more;the narrative sparkles with details that match its subject's energy and verve.Especially crystalline are the links drawn between father Sam's decades-long dismissal of his son's musical gifts and the consequential importance of mentors and supportive teachers in the young man's life.In exploring Lenny's devout Jewish roots and coming of age during the persecution of Jews in Europe, the author reveals how dramatically Bernstein altered the landscape for conductors on the American scene. In an epilogue sketching Bernstein's later life, she briefly mentions his bisexuality, marriage and children. Drawn from interviews, family memoirs and other print resources, quotations are well-integrated and assiduously attributed. Photos, concert programs, early doodles and letters, excerpts from musical scores and other primary documentation enhance the text. Excellent bookmaking—from type to trim size—complements a remarkable celebration of a uniquely American musical genius. (chronology, biographical sketches, author's note, discography, bibliography, quotation sources, index) (Biography. 9-12)
Read an Excerpt
From the start Leonard loved music. When he was about two year old, his parents, Sam and Jennie, stayed with friends who had a summer house at Revere Beach near Boston. The friends had a piano in the living room, and whenever Leonard heard someone playing, he pressed his ear to the closed door. "Moynik!" he shouted, his own word for music.
At home in Mattapan, a suburb of Boston, he would cry "Moynik!" with tears running down his face until his mother put a record on the windup Victrola. Then Lenny, as he was called, would stop crying and listen happily. The Victrola was Lenny’s faithful companion and, often, his only playmate.