Leonard Bernstein was born in Lawrenceville, Massachusettes on August 25, 1918. He was the first born child of Samuel and Jennie Bernstein, who lived in Boston, but had gone to Lawrenceville to visit some relatives.
Bernstein's parents had little knowledge of, or interest in classical music. The only records Leonard remembers hearing on his family phonograph when he was a child were the popular hit songs of the day, such as "Barney Google" and "Oh by Jingo."
For the most part, Leonard Bernstein was an unhappy child. He said, "I was a miserable, terrified little child" (Musicians p.64). His family moved from town to town, during Bernstein's school days, not giving him a chance to make close friends or feel at home. Sadly, Bernstein's peers would make fun of and tease Bernstein. He was a very sickly child as he suffered from chronic asthma, rose fever, and hay fever.
This pathetic child grew to be a very shy person.
Leonard always had a heart for music, even as a young boy. As an eight year old, one morning, when he was sitting in the synagogue, the religious music of the choir and organ overwhelmed him by it's beauty and caused him to burst into tears. When Leonard and his family would visit their friends, Leonard would sneak over to the piano and experiment. When he was eleven, his aunt sent her piano to his house for his family to keep for storage. "I made love to it right away" he recalled (Musicians p. 65). He could escape from all his frustrations and sadness by playing the piano. His parents didn't like the fact that he was always at the piano, they wanted him to concentrate on his school work. They thought of piano playing as a waste of...