Zilele trecute a fost publicat, la Yale University Press, un volum cu vreo 650 de scrisori din corespondența compozitorului și dirijorului american Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). Numită The Leonard Bernstein Letters, cartea – editată de muzicologul și dirijorul Nigel Simeone – relevă fragmente din viața acestui muzician considerat de unii drept unul dintre cei mai importanți compozitori de secol XX, iar de alții drept un geniu.
Din corespondența cu personalități ale vremii precum Arthur Miller, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Aaron Copland, Boris Pasternak, Bette Davis, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, dar și cu cei apropiați precum Felicia (soția lui) și Shirley (sora sa) aflăm despre incredibila forță de a lucra, despre versatilitatea cu care compunea în diverse genuri muzicale – simfonii ca “Age of Anxiety”, muzică de film precum “On the Waterfront”, musicaluri de Broadway precum “West Side Story” -, despre părerile lui despre alți muzicieni, despre politică și iubire.
Nu am citit cartea (se poate lua în format kindle de pe Amazon), însă prezentarea pe care i-o face presa internațională și mai ales cele câteva scrisori din carte publicate pe ici pe colo, m-au convins să-mi doresc să am The Leonard Bernstein Letters în bibliotecă. Și asta, în primul rând, pentru că vreau să știu despre Bernstein mai mult decât că a făcut Rapsodia albastră a lui George Gershwin – prin interpretarea la pian și prin felul lui de a dirija – să fie mai frumoasă decât era; că a fost primul dirijor care a ținut prelegeri televizate pe teme de muzică clasică (seria de concerte “Young People’s Concerts”, susținute între 1958 și 1972, la Filarmonica din New York, unde a fost multă vreme director) sau că avea ceva inimitabil prin care captiva publicul.
Felicia Bernstein lui Leonard Bernstein
[Late 1951 or 1952]
If I seemed sad as you drove away today it was not because I felt in any way deserted but because I was left alone to face myself and this whole bloody mess which is our “connubial” life. I’ve done a lot of thinking and have decided that it’s not such a mess after all.
First: we are not committed to a life sentence—nothing is really irrevocable, not even marriage (though I used to think so).
Second: you are a homosexual and may never change—you don’t admit to the possibility of a double life, but if your peace of mind, your health, your whole nervous system depend on a certain sexual pattern what can you do?
Third: I am willing to accept you as you are, without being a martyr or sacrificing myself on the L.B. altar. (I happen to love you very much—this may be a disease and if it is what better cure?) It may be difficult but no more so than the “status quo” which exists now—at the moment you are not yourself and this produces painful barriers and tensions for both of us—let’s try and see what happens if you are free to do as you like, but without guilt and confession, please!
As for me—once you are rid of tensions I’m sure my own will disappear. A companionship will grow which probably no one else may be able to offer you. The feelings you have for me will be clearer and easier to express—our marriage is not based on passion but on tenderness and mutual respect. Why not have them?
I know now too that I need to work. It is a very important part of me and I feel incomplete without it. I may want to do something about it soon. I am used to an active life, and then there is that old ego problem.
We may have gotten married too soon and yet we needed to get married and we’ve not made a mistake. It is good for us even if we suffer now and make each other miserable—we will both grow up some day and be strong and unafraid either together or apart—after all we are both more important as individuals that a “marriage” is.
In any case my dearest darling ape, let’s give it a whirl. There’ll be crisis (?) from time to time but that doesn’t scare me any more. And let’s relax in the knowledge that neither of us is perfect and forget about being HUSBAND AND WIFE in such strained capital letters, it’s not that awful!
There’s a lot else I’ve got to say but the pill has overpowered me. I’ll write again soon. My wish for the week is that you come back guiltless and happy.
Eliot E-51, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
[received March 22 1938]
God damn it, Aaron,
Why practise Chopin mazurkas? Why practise even the Copland Variations? The week has made me so sick, Aaron, that I can’t breathe anymore. The whole superfluousness of art shows up at a time like this, and the whole futility of spending your life in it. I take it seriously – seriously enough to want to be with it constantly till the day I die. But why? With millions of people going mad – madder every day because of a most mad man strutting across borders – with every element that we thought had refined human living and made what we called civilisation being actively forgotten, […] what chance is there? Art is more than ever now proved entertainment – people, we thought, were ready, after 2,000 years of refining Christianity […]. And so we were willing to spend our lives creating that entertainment. Aaron, it’s not feasible; it’s a damned dirty disappointment. […]
Excuse this outburst, Aaron. […] Thank God for you. Our last hope is in the work you are doing.
Continental House, Stamford, NY
July 23 1947
Your letter stirred up lots of problems.
To go into them adequately would require an elaborate paper – and that does not agree with my vacations. I try a compromise. I have to be honest in the first place. Honest and short means usually: it hurts! I have to rely on your perspicacity and your English to translate my thoughts into a good, nice, considerate English. Will you? […]
In your dreams there is confusion, you are not able to go where you have to go: two simultaneous engagements or dates and so on. You are seeing Felicia and the day she leaves you have to see a boy.
The same old pattern. You can’t give up. Very eager to resume analysis but the queer fish resistance is as big a fish as your drive to get well. […]
You are toying around with the possibility of being a dull and uninteresting talent – or losing your place in the score.
Remember that you wanted to challenge people and find out whether they would still love you.
It’s all very sketchy, I know. But I still hope that you can pick out something of help for you.
I did intend to go to Tanglewood, indeed, but it did not materialise. […]
Lenny, I hope very much that you understand what I really want to convey to you! Do you?
I am back in town between the 5-10th of Sept.