Google is celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein with Saturday’s Google Doodle.
The Doodle features an animated Bernstein growing up through music, from being introduced to the piano to eventually writing and conducting. The score of Bernstein’s West Side Story — one of his most well-known works — is playing throughout.
The legacy of Leonard Bernstein includes several other Broadway shows as well, but West Side Story was arguably his most successful — the musical received six Tony nominations in 1957. Creating the music for West Side Story propelled Bernstein into stardom, so much so that one Vanity Fair columnist wrote that “until his death, in 1990, Leonard Bernstein would be the most important musician in America, period.”
In addition to writing music for the Broadway stage, Bernstein was also a prolific conductor. As the Google Doodle noted, Bernstein was the youngest conductor to lead the New York Philharmonic. He was just 25 years old when he made his debut, substituting for Bruno Walter, at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Success followed Bernstein in the years that followed: he became director of the New York City Symphony in 1943, conducted on television in 1949 and won a Tony Award for Wonderful Town in 1953.
The Tony was just the beginning for Bernstein, who would go on to win a special Tony Award alongside Carol Burnett in 1969. Bernstein was also nominated for 63 Grammys for compositions, performances and even a spoken-word recording. He went on to win 16 Grammys, his last in 1992 for Mahler: Symphony No. 9.
Bernstein was more than just a composer and conductor, as his website notes, he was also a dedicated educator and humanitarian. He died on Oct. 14, 1990, at the age of 72 in New York City.