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Leonard Bernstein: A Guide to Resources at the Library of Congress

Leonard Bernstein Collection

Herman Landshoff, photographer. Portrait of Bernstein with inscription that reads: "To the New York Philharmonic Society in deepest gratitude for giving me my great opportunity/Sincerely, Leonard Bernstein/NYC-2/4/44.". November 1943. Published in January 1944 issue of Harper's Bazaar. Library of Congress Music Division.

The Leonard Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress is as exceptional as its name would suggest. Numbering over 400,000 items, it is one of the largest special collections in the Music Division and among the most heavily consulted collections in the Performing Arts Reading Room. The Music Division began acquiring music manuscripts from Bernstein in 1953 and continued receiving donations through 1967; among those manuscripts were The Age of Anxiety, Candide, Chichester Psalms, Fancy Free, Jeremiah, Trouble in Tahiti, West Side Story, Wonderful Town, and other works. Helen Coates, Bernstein's longtime friend and secretary, continued to give the Music Division scrapbooks that she had compiled for Bernstein and, in 1991, bequeathed to the Library 94 letters, music manuscripts and other Bernstein-related items. Over the next couple of years, the Springate Corporation (representatives of the Bernstein estate) greatly increased the size of the Bernstein Collection by giving the Library hundreds of thousands of additional items, and the estate has continued to donate items since then. The collection now includes music manuscripts, correspondence, writings of all types, photographs, commercial and non-commercial recordings and audio-visual materials (now housed in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division), business papers, programs, fan mail, date books, and realia. Connect with the Recorded Sound Research Center to learn about sound recordings from the Bernstein Collection, and contact the Moving Image Research Center to discover film footage included in the collection.

Accessing the Collection

A selection of music manuscripts, correspondence, draft writings, photographs, and sound recordings have been digitized and made available as part of the Library's digital collections.

See the Digital Collections section of this guide for more information about digitized collection material related to Bernstein. In addition to the materials available online, a finding aid is available which more fully describes the entire collection available to researchers in the Performing Arts Reading Room at the Library of Congress.