Leonard Bernstein’s death in October will strike many as the tolling of a bell, not just for this great career, but for the prospects once entertained for American music. Ever since he burst upon the concert stage at the age of twenty-five, triumphantly filling in for the venerable Bruno Walter as conductor with the New York Philharmonic on a Sunday CBS radio broadcast, Bernstein seemed to be the answer to American music lovers' prayers: a dynamic, exciting, homegrown genius bubbling with vitality. And when this young musical Tarzan turned out, with the writing of the ballet score Fancy Free (1944), to be a marvelously gifted composer as well, our native pride could know no bounds.

Those of us who who were fortunate enough to witness what now seems the infant Bernstein at the end of World War II remember an omni-talent: a conductor, a pianist, on occasion even a singer and, one easily imagined, a so ...