University Archives


Leonard Bernstein Signed Title Page from His Biography, with Two Measures of Musical Notation from 1944 Ballet "Fancy Free"

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), the prolific twentieth-century American composer and conductor, endorsed this title page excised from his 1961 biography. Bernstein signed as "Leonard Bernstein," inscribed the dedicatee's name (illegible), wished them "Best wishes," and also penned two measures of music from his popular ballet, "Fancy Free." The left edge is slightly deckled from where it was pulled from the original book binding. Some minor paper abrasions can be found along the top and bottom edges of the page verso where it was once mounted, but this does not affect Bernstein's handwriting. Else near fine. 5.25" x 7.25."

The title page was once part of a 63pp biography written about Bernstein by fellow composer Artur Holde entitled "Leonard Bernstein" (Berlin: Rembrandt Verlag, 1961). Artur Holde (1885-1962), a music critic as well as a composer and conductor, immigrated to the United States from Germany in the late 1930s.

Leonard Bernstein composed the music for the ballet "Fancy Free," first performed by dancers of the New York City Ballet at the American Ballet Theatre in April 1944. The ballet marked one of Bernstein's early successes. His jazzy score--along with inventive choreography by Jerome Robbins--enlivened the story of three rakish sailors set loose in New York City on 24-hour shore leave. Bernstein and Robbins went on to adapt "Fancy Free" into the hit Broadway musical "On The Town."

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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