The Joy of Music

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First edition

The Joy of Music is Leonard Bernstein's first book, originally published in 1959 by Simon & Schuster. A highly acclaimed, bestselling work, it is still in print today.

In the book, Bernstein completely abandons the traditional academic style of books on classical music. Some of the chapters are cast in the style of conversations about music between Bernstein and several imaginary people. (One of these conversations contains Bernstein's thoughts on Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, a work he never conducted or recorded.) Other chapters of the book are made up of complete transcribed scripts of Bernstein's television music lectures of the 1950s, taken from the TV show Omnibus. They include his famous dissection of the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But the published scripts rely heavily on printed musical illustrations,[1] so readers unfamiliar with music notation were once unable to appreciate them fully. However, all of Bernstein's Omnibus lectures have recently been released on DVD, so readers of The Joy of Music are now able to hear the musical examples they may have been unable to read.[2] The program on jazz was also recorded on an LP and has been released on CD. The Beethoven's Fifth lecture has also been released on CD, but in an unfortunate format making it impossible to listen without hearing "feedback" in different languages.[3]