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Bernstein;Leonard Omnibus

Leonard Bernstein , Alistair Cooke , Andrew McCullough , Charles S. Dubin    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Golden Age of Television Jan. 28 2010
By The Movie Man - Published on Amazon.com
"Omnibus" ran on ABC, CBS, and NBC at various times from 1952 to 1961. The program showcased both established stars and rising talent from the worlds of music, dance, theater, and opera. Long a staple of Sunday afternoon programming, "Omnibus" eventually moved to other time slots and networks when the value of Sunday real estate rose with the broadcasting of professional football.
"Omnibus: Leonard Bernstein" is a four-disc set containing seven shows aired between 1954 and 1958 that feature Mr. Bernstein's enthusiastic lecture/performances about classical and other forms of music. Bernstein was equally at home with classical music and musical theater. He wrote the scores for "West Side Story" and "On the Town" and was the longtime conductor of the New York Philharmonic.
His "Omnibus" debut was "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony" (broadcast live on CBS, November 14, 1954). Other shows include "The World of Jazz," "American Musical Comedy," "Introduction to Modern Music," "The Music of J.S. Bach," "The Art of Conducting," and "What Makes Opera Grand?" The shows are the kind of fare that today can only be seen on PBS. The TV audience of millions were both entertained and educated by Bernstein's spirited programs. Clearly, he loved his subjects and his energy and passion come through, even in black and white on the small screen. Extras include a bonus performance of Handel's "Messiah" and a 24-page booklet with contributions written by music critic John Rockwell.
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Aboard the Omnibus June 16 2010
By takingadayoff - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Omnibus was a TV series that debuted in 1952, was hosted by Alistair Cooke, and was mostly about the arts. You might see an original play or a dance performance, a discussion of architecture, or some comedy. Conductor Leonard Bernstein appeared many times over the years. This collection features six of his talks about music and a performance of Handel's Messiah.

Bernstein's first appearance on the show was in 1954 with a fascinating half hour on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. In it, Bernstein explores Beethoven's notebooks to discover what changes Beethoven made to his most famous composition before he decided it was ready for prime time. It's really quite interesting to hear an orchestra play what were early drafts of the Fifth.

It's just as interesting to see this young, dark-haired Bernstein, already a star, athletically urging the orchestra on, singing (a good singing voice was one of the few musical gifts the Maestro did not possess), playing the piano and organ, conducting, even sneaking a cigarette now and then. His manner is professorial and enthusiastic, an engaging combination. He seems to genuinely want to share what he loves about music, and although he indulges in a bit of showing off now and then, it never comes off as condescending.

As someone who knows next to nothing about the study of music, I found this set educational, but not always in the way Bernstein intended. I learned a lot from the Beethoven episode, and the shows about Bach and jazz. Sometimes we end up learning more about Bernstein's preferences than anything else. In the show about opera, he contrasts operatic scenes from La Boheme with the same scenes, but done as theater, without music. The intent is clearly to show how much more drama can be wrung out of a scene if everyone is singing, but I found the acted scenes to be quite dramatic and less overwrought.

I was afraid the set would be hard to watch since it's from the early days of TV, but the picture is clear enough and the sound is good enough, not great, but not distractingly bad.

Fun surprises are seeing an as yet unknown Carol Burnett, aged about 22, belting out a song called "Ooh La La" in a powdered Marie Antoinette wig, and Jean Marsh, later to become famous in Upstairs, Downstairs, as Mimi in the non-musical scenes from La Boheme.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars oh what a joy Feb. 17 2011
By Wolfram Helfigurd - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
i stumbled on this issue of programs by chance last xmas--some of us of-a-certain-age will remember watching these broadcasts (often to the pleased wonder of our parents) and will rejoice to watch them (with or without grandkids) 50 years later--AND the issue is on sale!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting Jan. 30 2011
By Goffredo Gonzales - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Whoever is interested in Leonard Bernstein as music director, or just as human being, will find this DVD set extremely enjoyable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Experience Aug. 13 2013
By Daniel B. Forer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I was away at school when these programs originally aired so it's an extraordinary gift to be able to see them for the first time in their entirety. I'd always heard mention of the famous Bernstein line, "three Gs and an E flat" when discussing Beethoven's Fifth. Now I can finally hear those words myself. And his discussion of the history of American Musical Theatre - astounding, brilliant! Through these wonderful discs he lives on and teaches on, forever.
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