KU Musicologist Paul Laird has devoted much of his career to studying conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). During the past year, he has given numerous presentations on Bernstein and his work as the world celebrates the 100th birthday of this extraordinary talent.
Laird admires Bernstein’s “absolute musicality,” his knowledge of musical styles, his fabulous ear, and his extraordinary charisma.
Laird has written five books about Bernstein, among them Leonard Bernstein: a Guide to Research. The book begins with an essay on the composer’s achievements and continues with annotations on Bernstein’s writings, performances, and educational work.
When asked, Laird declares that “West Side Story” is his favorite of Bernstein’s works.