A MUSICAL MEMOIR OF LEONARD BERNSTEIN        by        Robert Mandell 

West Side Maestro Volume 1, “The Creative Spark!” is exactly what it describes itself to be, “a musical memoir.” It is an in depth personal examination of creative genius based upon not only the author’s own experiences studying and working with one of the 20th century’s most famous musicians, Leonard Bernstein, during the ten most formative years of his career, but also the memories of countless distinguished and noted members of the music and theatre Arts and Sciences in its brief to encompass the essence of the Bernstein creative spark as conductor, composer, television guru, writer, teacher and innovative thinker. Humphrey Burton, author of "Leonard Bernstein” and director of over 170 Bernstein documentaries and filmed concerts, writes of West Side Maestro: "Robert Mandell's detailed analyses and level headed assessments of Bernstein's recorded legacy and of his equally extraordinary work as a teacher, (from The Young People's Concerts to the Norton Lectures), break new ground in Bernstein studies and will serve as the standard work for future generations: we owe him a huge debt of gratitude."

‘LENNY’ photo by  Paul de Heuck


There are several books on Leonard Bernstein the man, but none as detailed, insightful and entertaining as this book on Bernstein the musician, conductor and composer. Chapter by chapter, we witness first hand the struggles, endless labors of love and triumphs of the musical creative process as seen by Bernstein and those around him. In doing so, author and conductor Robert Mandell manages to provide rare insights into the personality of the genius garnered through years having worked closely as Bernstein's student and assistant at perhaps the most formative period in Bernstein's career, and Mandell's intimate knowledge of the man and of the conductor's podium shines through on each page. The book is recommended to anyone interested in classical music and the orchestra in general, for it is written, with very sharp wit and wisdom, from the perspective of an author who is himself a conductor of over 60 years experience. Despite its heft, depth and great attention to detail, a lively and very entertaining read which must become a standard reference work on Bernstein found on the bookshelves of every serious music conservatory and musicologist. It will change more than a few ways in which Bernstein's career and compositions are now perceived by historians. The Creative Spirit, Volume 2, dealing with Bernstein the conductor and his vast output of sound recordings and Video/DVD films, is promised to follow in late 2012, and is sure to itself become an invaluable reference work. 


Charles Munch, conductor:
       "Robert Mandell proved himself to be a young conductor generously endowed with natural talent, carefully nurtured and well developed."
Max Rudolph, conductor:
        "Robert Mandell is among the most highly gifted young conductors I have encountered in recent years....His should be a brilliant career to which I wish him success,"
Edward Downes, critic, The New York Times, author, Guide To Symphonic Music:
         "Communicative Magic...The quality that, however familiar the work, lifts players and listeners out of themselves so that they discover the music afresh with the poignance of a first hearing.  Here, one felt, was a conductor of stature"
N Y Herald Tribune:  
[Robert Mansell is a] gifted young maestro of striking command.  His beat is perfection itself, 
his buoyancy and zest a thing of wonder."

The New York Times: 
"the most promising young conductor it has been this listener's pleasure to hear in many months."

About the Author
Robert Mandell is an American conductor whose career spans 65 years. Following three years as a scholarship conductor at Tanglewood studying with Leonard Bernstein, Bernstein appointed him his Special Music Assistant for both his Omnibus TV Lectures and a member of the creative team for the first two seasons of the televised NY Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts. His American career included Music Directorships of three symphony orchestras and annual series of concerts at both New York’s Carnegie Hall & Town Hall. As house conductor for Readers Digest Records from 1961-67, he recorded 40 long playing records in repertoire ranging from Bach to Broadway. In 1968, he took up residence with his family in England and established himself with his Concerts For The Family conducting the Melachrino Strings and Orchestra in annual national tours and on BBC radio, television and recordings. He has been recognised in both the United States and UK as an authority on musical theatre for which he has served in the roles of both musical and stage director. He is at present at work on Volume 2 of his authoritative musical memoir of Leonard Bernstein which is scheduled for publication for Christmas 2012.

ROBERT MANDELL (far right) at TANGLEWOOD 1951 

                                                                                                             Whitestone Photo

West Side Maestro: 
A Musical Memoir of Leonard Bernstein
Volume 1 - The Creative Spark
© 2012 by Robert Mandell
Published by Pressit Publications
ISBN 1477448667, 9781477448663
Length 602 pages