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Leonard Bernstein invented how we do modern classical music

Whether he was conducting, composing or communicating, Bernstein was a stylish innovator

By Alexandra Coghlan   May 2018

Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Between 1958 and 1972, Leonard Bernstein presented 53 episodes of his pioneering Young People’s Concerts on US television. In over 50 hours of broadcasting one moment stands out. It’s in the episode entitled, unpromisingly, “What is a Mode?” Faced with the task of explaining the “tongue-twisting” Mixolydian mode to his Sunday-afternoon audience, Bernstein sits down at the piano. Dressed in a suit and tie, with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra ranked behind him on stage, he begins to play and…

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