Friday, July 04, 2008

Bernstein on the Declaration of Independence


'For as long as I can remember, I have been reading to myself this extraordinary document called the Declaration of Independence on every Fourth of July - each year marvelling anew at its precision of rhetoric, its visionary hopes, its solemn legal diction, its stubborn adherence to facts, and to barely contained rage. It had been a fruitful annual exercise. I don't know how many of you also read it once a year, if not, it is my prideful honour to do it for you, in this very special year.

Abraham Lincoln said that we cannot escape history, and he said it in a historical moment far darker than ours. But today we are living a moment from which we will escape only at our utmost peril. It is the moment of rededicating ourselves to the concept of freedom - that blazing idea which our forefathers pledged to one another their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. We can do no less than to renew that pledge, as we repeat their majestic utterance:
"When in the course of human events... "' - speech given by Leonard Bernstein at Battery Park, New York City, 4 July 1976.

Powerful stuff, but did Lenny write simply chic symphonies?
Photo with George Balanchine and Rudolf Bing at Lincoln Center in 1962 and text both from Bernstein's essential Findings, out of print but available. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

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