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John Gruen collection of Leonard Bernstein research (MSS 54)

Identifier: MSS 54
The collection includes untranscribed audiotape recordings of interviews that Gruen conducted with Leonard Bernstein and others for his book The Private World of Leonard Bernstein (1968) and additional articles about Bernstein. Drafts of the book and typescripts of the articles are included.


  • 1967-1997


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research

Conditions Governing Use

Digitized materials are provided solely for personal, educational, or other non-commercial use. For copyright information and guidelines concerning reproduction or publication, contact the Curtis archives.


1.2 Linear feet ((3) archival boxes) : Audio portion includes (30) compact cassette tapes and (1) DAT15 tape

Biographical / Historical

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was a world renowned American conductor and composer. After graduating from Harvard University in 1939 he enrolled at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied conducting with Fritz Reiner, piano with Isabelle Vengerova, orchestration with Randall Thompson, and counterpoint with Richard Stöhr. In 1943, he made his professional conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic as the last-minute replacement for conductor Bruno Walter. Bernstein was appointed assistant conductor soon after. He emerged as a composer during the same years and became best known for his music for West Side Story.

John Gruen is an art critic and author, who wrote for the New York Herald Tribune and New York Times. He was chief art critic for New York Magazine, arts columnist for Vogue, and senior editor at Dance Magazine. Among the fifteen books he has written are a biography of Gian-Carlo Menotti, commissioned by the Curtis Institute of Music, and The private world of Leonard Bernstein, published on the occasion of Bernstein's fiftieth birthday in 1968. Gruen, who was a personal friend of Bernstein, wrote extensively about the summer he and his family spent with the Bernstein family in 1967 in Callas Kissed Me…Lenny Too!: A Critic’s Memoir (PowerHouse Books, 2008).


The collection is arranged in the following series: 1. Audiotapes of interviews 1967-86 2. Manuscript drafts for the 1967 3. Articles by Gruen about Bernstein 1970-86 4. Catalogues and miscellaneous materials 1976, 1986.

Preservica Public URL

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from John Gruen in 2011.

Existence and Location of Originals

Copies of the majority of interview tapes are held by the Leonard Bernstein Estate.
John Gruen collection of Leonard Bernstein research (MSS 54)
Kristina Wilson and Barbara Benedett
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Edition statement
revised 2018

Revision Statements

  • 9 February 2017: spell check / general content editing
  • 2 February 2018: added information about individual interviews, agent name headings
  • 14 September 2018: re-foldered box 3, added file level description, moved crowded/oversized materials to box 4

Repository Details

Part of the Curtis Institute of Music Archives Repository

1720 Locust St
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States