Collection ID: VAD8042
Printable View Printable View

Collection context


Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990
Materials collected from the composition studio of Leonard Bernstein, a conductor, composer, and musician active during the mid-20th century. The collection includes recordings, books, scores, awards, artwork, clothing, furniture, and other artifacts pertaining to his professional and personal life.
2100 items.(Approximately)
Text materials are largely in English , but also include German , French , Italian , Latin , Hebrew , and many others.
Preferred citation:

[Item], The Leonard Bernstein Collection, Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, Bloomington.


Biographical / Historical:

Leonard Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts on August 25, 1918. He began playing the piano at a young age, and then continued his studies as a music major at Harvard University. During his time at Harvard, Bernstein met several important musicians, including Walter Piston, Dimitri Mitropoulos, and Aaron Copland. Copland became a close friend and mentor throughout Bernstein's life. After graduating from Harvard, Bernstein studed at the Curtis Institute and attended the Tanglewood Festival in 1940 with Serge Koussevitzky.

In August 1943, Bernstein became the assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and had the good fortune to fill in for Bruno Walter at a nationally broadcast concert one month later. He stayed on as part-time music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1945 to 1948. In 1957, he became co-conductor with Dimitri Mitropoulos, and was named the youngest ever music director in 1958. He remained in the position until 1969. Bernstein also served as the Tanglewood director in 1951 and as guest conductor with various orchestras throughout his career, most importantly the Vienna Philharmonic and Israel Philharmonic.

Some of Bernstein's most well known compositions are the Broadway musicals West Side Story and Candide, and symphonic works Symphony No.3 "Kaddish" and Chichester Psalms. His style is marked by a mixture of classical and popular elements, including jazz rhythms and harmonies. Bernstein often based his compositions on Jewish subjects and melodies, and used his music to speak out against topics such as war and nuclear weapons.

Bernstein was much celebrated for his talents as conductor, composer, and music educator. As conductor, he was one of the first Americans to achieve world-wide fame, and many of his recordings are still popular among musicians today. He passed away in New York City on October 14, 1990.

Scope and Content:

The collection consists of approximately 2100 items, the complete contents of Bernstein's composition studio in Fairfield, Connecticut. It includes his furniture; office supplies; recordings by Bernstein and other musicians; books, some of which are signed by the authors or Bernstein's friends; artwork and posters, either decorative or relating to performances in which he was conductor or composer; numerous certificates and awards, including Grammys and honorary doctorates; and other personal objects collected throughout Bernstein's life.

The materials in the collection were created between the 16th and 21st centuries, but primarily during Bernstein's career, approximately 1940-1990.

Acquisition information:
The materials were donated to Indiana University by Leonard Bernstein's children: Jamie Bernstein, Alexander Bernstein and Nina Bernstein Simmons.
Appraisal information:

The Collection was appraised in 2009 by Helaine Fendelman & Associates, New York, NY prior to its donation to Indiana University.

Custodial history:

The items came directly from the Bernstein family from the family home in Fairfield, CT. Some information about individual items is described on the appraisal report completed by Helaine Fendelman & Associates, dated December 22, 2009.

Processing information:

Processed by Cook Music Library staff.

Completed in 2016


Arranged in numbered series, by format and content:

  1. * Subseries 10.1. Images
  2. * Subseries 10.2. Texts
  3. * Subseries 10.3. Objects

Online content



This collection is open for research. Audiovisual materials may require the creation of digital listening copies. Advance notice of your visit is required to ensure that requested materials will be ready for use upon your arrival. Contact the Music Library staff for more details.


All requests for copying and publishing materials must be submitted in writing to the Cook Music Library. Some publication requests may also require the written permission of other copyright holders.

Archival materials are made available under an assertion of fair use (17 U.S.C. 107) for noncommercial educational and research purposes only. Indiana University respects the intellectual property rights of others and does not claim any copyright interest for non-university records. It is the researcher's responsibility to seek permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders for any reuse of these materials that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials.


[Item], The Leonard Bernstein Collection, Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Indiana University Bloomington
William & Gayle Cook Music Library
200 South Jordan Avenue
Bloomington, Indiana 47405, United States
Indiana University Bloomington