Leonard Bernstein-1The Omnibus television program of the 1950s and ‘60s has been called “the most successful cultural magazine series in the history of U.S. commercial television.” One of its most popular and innovative undertakings was an eight-part series on music that Leonard Bernstein made for the program between 1954 and 1958.

Now the Arizona Senior Academy is presenting those eight programs on separate dates this summer in the Academy’s Great Room. The fourth, to be shown at 3:30 p.m. Thursday (July 7), is entitled “American Musical Comedy.”

In it, Bernstein will illustrate his talk with selections from Hammerstein’s South Pacific, Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing and Someone to Watch Over Me, Berlin’s Watch Your Step, Sullivan’s Mikado, and Porter’s Ooh-La-La.

Originally broadcast on Oct. 7, 1956, the program shows that some of Bernstein’s greatest successes—“On the Town” and “West Side Story”—were written for Broadway. This enhanced is reputation with the general public, but, in the words of critic John Rockwell, “earned him the undying disdain of those classical critics who regarded any trafficking with Broadway as a taint.”

Later programs from the “Leonard Bernstein: Omnibuscollection will cover modern music, J.S. Bach, grand opera, and a bonus performance featuring Bernstein conducting selections from Handel’s Messiah..

Originally broadcast on Oct. 7, 1956, the program shows that some of Bernstein’s greatest successes—“On the Town” and “West Side Story”—were written for Broadway. This enhanced is reputation with the general public, but, in the words of critic John Rockwell, “earned him the undying disdain of those classical critics who regarded any trafficking with Broadway as a taint.”

Later programs from the “Leonard Bernstein: Omnibuscollection will cover modern music, J.S. Bach, grand opera, and a bonus performance featuring Bernstein conducting selections from Handel’s Messiah.

Omnibus was created by the Ford Foundation, which sought to increase the education level of the American public. The show’s producer, Robert Saudek, pledged to “raise the level of American taste” with educational entertainment.

It was broadcast live, primarily on Sunday afternoons at 4:00 p.m. EST, from November 9, 1952 until 1961. The series won more than 65 awards, including seven Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards.

Written by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer

 

Bernstein’s Historic TV Series: ‘American Musical Comedy’: July2016
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