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Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein (August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was a Jewish-American conductor, composer, pianist, music educator, author, and humanitarian. Considered to be one of the most important conductors of his time, he was the first American conductor to receive international acclaim. Bernstein was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history" according to music critic Donal Henahan. Bernstein received numerous honors and accolades including seven Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards, and 16 Grammy Awards (including the Lifetime Achievement Award) as well as an Academy Award nomination. He received the Kennedy Center Honor in 1981.


The “Dona Nobis Pacem” blues from Leonard Bernstein’s MASS (1971), original Hebrew translation by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: 12 Oct 2023 by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Leonard Bernstein | Stephen Schwartz |

An original Hebrew translation of the blues-rock portion of the Agnus Dei movement from Leonard Bernstein’s MASS (note: always spelled with ALL CAPS), where the crowd of disaffected and disillusioned young parishioners interrupts the offertory to demand peace now, and hold God to account for not giving it to us. It’s unsurprising that for a composer as proudly and openly Jewish as Bernstein that even his setting of the Tridentine Mass has major “shaking your fist at God” energy. Not gonna lie, I was listening to this on a plane out of Jerusalem as the war was starting, and I started to tear up. I immediately started writing this translation and finished it up in the process of about an hour while stuck somewhere a few thousand feet above Greenland. It’s amazing and moving and tragic and enraging and a little full of itself in exactly the right way to hit me in the heart. . . .