- Mar 2021
WellAlwaysHaveParis il y a 7 ans • Testament to the power of the Internet...Leonard Bernstein has been dead for 23 years, and yet his knowledge, insight and wisdom perpetually echo forward for future generations. This video was probably lost in an attic somewhere before somebody decided to drop it on YouTube. It warms my heart that 59,000+ people have seen it.
Recordings from the whole lecture series by “born teacher” Leonard Bernstein has been “making the rounds”, thanks in part to YouTubers like Adam Neely who has been linking to those videos in descriptions of some of his episodes.
Part of the reason the series interests me for its #PedagogicalHeritage is that it extend Bernstein’s role, who’s been mostly known as a composer and conductor. These really are lectures, delivered on campus. At the beginning of the first lecture, Bernstein explicitly described his relationship to Harvard and his being “petrified” at lecturing there. His outside status is important. In music, it’s not uncommon for lectures to be given by renowned musical experts without the academic #credentials which usually serve to “qualify” a prof. According to his bio (archive), LB was a visiting prof at Brandeis in the 1950s. When he delivered those lectures on campus, he was “Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard”. The lectures were a significant part of the deal. There’s a direct continuity between the lecturer’s experience and the delivery of “teaching material”. In another context, the research behind those lectures might not have qualified a prof for tenure.
There’s quite a bit about prestige to unpack, there. And more than a little about “The Canon”. If I use excerpts from this series in my teaching, I’ll likely start from that: who was Bernstein? Why does it matter that we hear his voice instead of somebody else’s? What learning affordances from these recordings, including the musical examples performed on the piano? The context would likely be my beloved ethnomusicology course. Otherwise, some kind of course about “broad approaches to music theorization”.
What strikes me in this comment (and in the “well, actually…” reply) is the very notion that the Internet gives us access to something valuable. Yet this access might be taken away at a moment’s notice (the ways of the DMCA are impenetrable). Yes, DVDs exist and the content might be retrieved. It’s technically possible to make backups of those videos. Yet the 5Rs of Open Content aren’t obvious, here.
Although, Neely did remix some of the content.