Look who’s tearing down the Berlin Wall

Leonard Bernstein was in Berlin soon after the Wall fell. He conducted Beethoven’s 9th with one significant word alteration – Freiheit (freedom) in place on Freude (joy)

leonard bernstein berlin wall

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  • There are still many other walls to be torn down the celebs avoid since taking a stance would be less politically advantageous. Nothing new. For decades Lenny worked with the VPO in spite of its exclusion of women and Asians. Never saw him out with his hammer and chisel there…

    • Actually, in 1973 Bernstein was caught, at midnight after his conducting the VPO in Mahler II, in the Goldene Saal of the Musikverein where he tried – with chisel and hammer – to cut one of the ornaments of the lower stalls, apparently to take with him – a black cushioned box laying next to him on the floor. A night watch intervened, whereupon B. defended himself with his hammer, wounding the courageous staff member who handed him over to the police who had been alarmed by the concierge upon hearing the screams. But B. was not arrested since the commissioner had attended the performance. This incident was never reported, although the negative opinion of the night watch about Bernstein has come down as one of the better stories of the VPO’s humorous mythology but cannot be printed.

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