With the Vietnam War top of the political agenda, any anti-war messages could potentially cause embarrassment to President Nixon should he attend the premiere. Nixon was habitually paranoid, and between February 1971 and July 1973 he secretly recorded 3, 700 hours of his phone calls and meeting across the executive offices. The tapes only came to light during the Watergate scandal of 1973/74, and Nixon’s refusal of a congressional subpoena to release the tapes constituted an article of impeachment, which led to his subsequent resignation on 9 August 1974. On these tapes Nixon is advised to avoid attending the “Mass,” and the president eventually attends the National Symphony gala concert instead. Following the preview performance of the “Mass” on 7 September, Nixon receives a report of “absolutely sickening” events, including “Bernstein’s tearful response to the ovation, his embraces of members of the cast, the kisses he bestowed on the men.” A couple days later Nixon applauds the news that a negative review will appear in the New York Times, written by Harold Schonberg. And once again, Bernstein’s support for the Black Panthers becomes the focus, this time garnished with details that Bernstein “is kissing people on the mouth, including the big black guy.” For Nixon, “Bernstein was the personification of the complete decadence of the American upper class intellectual elite,” and he predictably ended up calling him a “son of a bitch.”
Leonard Bernstein: Mass
- Leonard Bernstein: The Spirit of New York Leonard Bernstein had always longed to write the Great American Opera. Yet, as it happens, he ended up writing the great American musical!
- Leonard Bernstein: Music can communicate the unknowable Leonard Bernstein undoubtedly was one of the most supremely talented interpretive musicians of the 20th century.
Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre
A Divided Life Felicia Montealegre was a stunningly beautiful Chilean-born stage and television actress making her living in New York.
- Leonard Bernstein Bernstein once told the New York Times, “I want to conduct. I want to play the piano. I want to write for Hollywood. I want to keep on trying to be, in the full sense of that wonderful word, a musician. I also want to teach...”
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