Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music

September 25, 2019 – March 1, 2020


Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music is the first large-scale museum exhibition to illustrate Leonard Bernstein’s life, Jewish identity, and social activism. Audiences may be familiar with many of Bernstein’s works, notably West Side Story, but not necessarily with how he responded to the political and social crises of his day. Visitors will find an individual who expressed the restlessness, anxiety, fear, and hope of an American Jew living through World War II and the Holocaust, Vietnam, and turbulent social change—what Bernstein referred to as his “search for a solution to the 20th‐century crisis of faith.”



Explore Bernstein’s Jewish roots and examine artifacts, including the piano he used in composing music, that reflected his identity.

Learn how Bernstein broke barriers by hiring black performers in the Broadway debut of the musical On The Town.

Discover the origins of the groundbreaking musical West Side Story with Bernstein’s own annotated copy of Romeo and Juliet.

Consider why Bernstein, of Jewish faith, would choose a Catholic Mass to express anxieties of the 1970s with his musical MASS.



Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music is generously sponsored by:

Signature Sponsors: Jules and Fran Belkin, Cleveland Foundation, Key Bank, John P. Murphy Foundation, Richard and Emily Smucker

Benefactor Sponsors: Alan and Karen Krause, Albert and Audrey Ratner, Zelman Family Foundation

Patron Sponsors: Grant and Jennifer Dinner, Hathaway Brown School, Noreen Koppelman-Goldstein and Barry Goloboff, Walter and Jean Kalberer, Meisel Family Foundation, Schwebel Family Foundation, Bennett & Donna Yanowitz Philanthropic Fund

Contributing Sponsors: David and Hedy Adler, Jay Blaushild and Ruthe Stone, Lois Davis, Feldman-Wehn Family, Paul M. Katz & Lisa B. Arnson, Susan and James Kendis, Keith and Nancy Libman, Sally and Don Messinger, Abraham and Barbara Miller, Larry and Julia Pollock, Robert S. & Sylvia K. Reitman Philanthropic Fund, Barbara Robinson, Enid and Dr. David Rosenberg, Robert and Eileen Sill Family Foundation, Michael and Pearl Summerfield Charitable Trust, David and Barbara Wolfort

Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music was orchestrated by the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia and made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Image: Leonard Bernstein, 1956. © Made available online with permission of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Friedman-Abeles, Billy Rose Theatre Collection. Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. Library of Congress, Music Division. Image: Leonard Bernstein’s annotated Copy of Romeo and Juliet. William Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1940. Ed. by George Kittredge.Leonard Bernstein Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress. By permission of The Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc. Image: Leonard Bernstein’s MASS: A Theatre Piece of Singers, Players, and Dancers, conducted by the Composer. Columbia Records. National Museum of American Jewish History. Image: Leonard Bernstein’s Steinway piano. Jessi Melcer. Image: “Times Square Ballet” from On the Town, 1944. Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Maltz Museum