Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music,” the first large-scale museum exhibition to illustrate the famed conductor and composer’s life, Jewish identity, and social activism, will open Sept. 25 at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood.

Created by the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia to coincide with the maestro’s 100th birthday, the exhibition features approximately 100 historic artifacts and photographs – from Bernstein’s piano and conducting suit to family heirlooms – along with original films and immersive sound installations.

Audiences may be familiar with many of Bernstein’s works, notably “West Side Story” (1957), but not necessarily how his approach to music was informed by the political and social crises of his day.

“Leonard Bernstein is remembered as a passionate, larger-than-life personality – a charismatic conductor, devoted educator, and skilled musician,” Ivy Weingram, who curated Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music for the National Museum of Jewish History, stated in a release. “This exhibition will delve into his memorable works while also exploring a lesser known side of Bernstein – the second-generation American Jew who inspired social progress, both on and off the stage. As our nation continues to confront issues of race, religion, and what it means to be an ‘American’, Bernstein’s music takes on new, personal meanings for every audience that experiences it.”

The exhibition brings together about 100 original artifacts and photographs, some never-before-exhibited in public. Artifact highlights include Bernstein’s piano, an annotated copy of Romeo and Juliet used for the development of West Side Story (originally imagined as East Side Story), the program for his Carnegie Hall debut, his conducting suit, his easel used for studying scores and composing, and much more.

The museum’s educational offerings include a partnership with Roots of American Music, inviting groups to add-on to their exhibition tour with a “Bernstein Interactive Music Experience.” Working with a ROAM teaching artist, students will learn about the power of music in protest and use one of Bernstein’s songs to craft lyrics that address injustices they experience today. Group tours run approximately 60 minutes. The add-on experience will also run approximately 60 minutes and cost $150. Ten scholarships are available for schools that meet the criteria. For more information, or to book a tour, contact Group Experience Coordinator, Sjobor Hammer, at 216-593-0595 or shammer@mmjh.org.

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