Performed Leonard Bernstein’s Wife Understand He had been Gay?

Performed Leonard Bernstein’s Wife Understand He had been Gay?

Songs was Bernstein’s finest and most constant passions. But their love existence is an important part off his build-up, and his awesome emails allow us to mode a larger image of an emotional lifetime that has been laden up with twists and you will turns – perfectly contribution: “Clearly, he had been at ease with getting sexual in many different means and you can yet , the guy wanted a classic lifetime, having a spouse and you may students in order to just who he had been faithful. He was a complicated, cutting-edge man, and you can state-of-the-art folks have cutting-edge personal life.” step 1 Interesting as the letters are from the individuals (usually dudes) which have which Bernstein had relationships inside the 1940s, You will find picked alternatively to target Bernstein’s very own attitude to help you his sexuality, and its own ramifications to possess their community. In communications which have Copland and you may David Oppenheim particularly, as well as in specific characters so you’re able to their sis Shirley in order to Diamond, the guy explores his sexual identity, often sharing your state out-of frustration and you can internal disagreement. On the one hand, his record inculcated conventional beliefs and you can relationships – sooner or later relationships; on the other side, his tastes on 1940s were constantly for men. Once their school education had been over, he first started something regarding thinking-mining on psychoanalyst he called the “Frau” – Marketa Morris. As we are able to see using their letters, the guy mutual a comparable specialist which have Oppenheim (with just who Bernstein had a close, undoubtedly intimate relationships during the early 1940s; their relationship is actually lifelong).

Immediately after an unstable begin (mainly due to Bernstein’s 1st habit of esteem wedding since the good style of experiment), the connection away from Leonard and Felicia flourished – including immediately after Jamie, the first of its youngsters, grew up in 1952

It’s no wonder one to Bernstein stayed silent on the subject of their sexuality inside the letters in order to Koussevitzky – up to, that’s, he proudly revealed 1st engagement so you’re able to Felicia in the December 1946, recommending a picture of their sexuality which had been at best incomplete. Bernstein themselves was anxious you to his sex lifestyle have an effective ruining effect on their work applicants, dreading he may battle looking a job once the a good conductor when it became known he try gay.

It’s value pausing for a moment to consider the latest cultural and you can societal framework one to gave Bernstein including fear of how others you are going to consider their sexuality. Many American psychoanalysts about 1930s and you may 1940s noticed homosexuality to help you feel a mental illness that could address “treatment”. The analysis by Alfred Kinsey while others penned in the 1948 due to the fact Sexual Decisions in the Human Male (the first “Kinsey Report”) attempted to codify levels of homosexual, heterosexual, and you will asexual conclusion inside guys to the “Kinsey Scale”, seeking to reveal that guys failed to fit into neat and personal classes. 2

There is certainly a predictably criminal a reaction to Kinsey’s findings: yet others, J. Edgar Vacuum, director of the FBI, is actually brief so you can denounce new results throughout the pages out of Reader’s Digest: “Mans feeling of decency announces what’s normal and you may what’s perhaps not. As soon as the American anybody, more youthful otherwise old, come to accept that there’s no instance procedure due to the fact best or completely wrong, regular or unusual, people that manage wreck civilization commonly applaud a primary earn over our very own way of living.” step 3 Put another way, homosexuality, for example communism, are “Un-American”. Two years afterwards, inside the ed Senate Panel for the Expenses about Government Departments provided an overview of brand new “A position away from Homosexuals or other Sex Perverts within the Bodies,” arriving at the hair on your head-raising end one “homosexuals or any other sex perverts commonly proper persons to be doing work in Bodies for a couple of reasons; first, they are usually the incorrect, and you will second, it make up safety risks.” 4

Bernstein wasn’t, of Aarhus wife course, seeking to a job throughout the regulators, however, the guy craved greet. There was absolutely nothing good evidence to suggest one to conductors weren’t appointed to certain ranks for their homosexuality regarding 1940s and 1950s, even though Dimitri Mitropoulos appear to felt he had been victimized. But several of the most well liked numbers about arts were homosexuals, perhaps not minimum Aaron Copland, that has, from the mid-1940s, end up being the most well known and you will special sound within the Western traditional tunes. Bernstein, although not, aspired becoming the songs director off a major Western band and you will sensed– correctly otherwise improperly – that he had a need to demonstrate he had been a conventional, conventional loved ones man. Even with Bernstein’s regular protestations which he craved the greater number of private life off an author (in which their sexuality lack come a challenge), he might do not let go off performing as the an essential part away from his community.

Just what he don’t need to bother about as much is actually this new it is possible to effect his sexuality might have with the their relationships – at the least notably less much just like the his selected mate, Felicia Montealegre, is concerned. She knew what she try committing by herself to: after they partnered, she blogged: “you are a great homosexual and you can prepared to deal with your because you are, without being a great martyr or losing me personally with the L.B. altar (Page 320).”

An exceptionally brilliant child, it’s obvious from Bernstein’s characters home exactly how much he cherished her. An equivalent like shines owing to for the Bernstein’s comments into the every their children (Jamie, Alexander, and you may Nina); along with his natural devotion to help you Felicia is obvious in lot of characters throughout the early 1950s until the middle-70s. It had been a love which had their rocky times, but only with the fresh new crisis away from 1976 as well as their “demo break up” achieved it threaten to fall aside. At the conclusion of his lives, Bernstein joked so you’re able to Jonathan Cott that “you would like like, which explains why I have ten thousand romantic household members that’s unjust on them since the I can not promote any one of all of them everything”. 5 But also for a quarter from a good century, Felicia is actually the fresh exclusion: she try undoubtedly the number one passion for his lives.

1. Dougary, Ginny (2010): “Leonard Bernstein: Charismatic, Conceited – and you can an excellent Father,” The changing times (London), thirteen February. On the web adaptation at , utilized .

Martin (1948): Sexual Conclusion on Peoples Men

4. This declaration is actually reprinted in Promote, Thomas A beneficial., ed. (2013): Recording Personal Issues: Prierica. Chicago: University away from Chicago Force, pp. 144–seven. Considering an article notice (p. 144): “Even more homosexuals than communists were discharged from government work within period [this new 1950s].”

Regarding Leonard Bernstein Characters by Leonard Bernstein, modified by Nigel Simeone. Compiled by Yale College Drive from inside the 2014. Recreated that have permission.

Nigel Simeone is famous since the an author and you can audio speaker into the musical that will be the author many courses along with Leonard Bernstein: West Front Facts. The guy stays in Northamptonshire, United kingdom.