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From Indiana to Israel, by way of Tahiti

The material legacy of the world-renowned composer of West Side Story and Candide has an Indiana home.

The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers at Purdue University recognizes the significant relationship between the legendary aviatrix and the Indiana institution.

Not only did Earhart serve on the school’s aeronautics faculty, but Purdue raised the funds to purchase the Lockheed Electra in which Earhart intended to circumnavigate the globe…and in which she mysteriously disappeared in 1937.

The material legacy of another world-renowned figure also has an Indiana home. In March 2009, the family of the late composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein donated the contents of his composing studio to the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington.

The room from a house in Fairfield, Connecticut where Bernstein composed Kaddish, his third symphony, the ballet Dybbuk, and his Mass will be “substantially” recreated in the Jacobs School, to be used as a teaching studio for distinguished guests and a museum open to the general public.

The gift includes such artifacts as his stand-up composing desk and a wooden stool once owned by Johannes Brahms, a gift to Bernstein from the Vienna Philharmonic. The conductor’s batons, 39 Grammy nomination plaques, and a few prosaic items — from an orange plastic pencil sharpener to a white push-button phone — will also be installed.

The composer of West Side Story and Candide was also the first American conductor with a global reputation.

Bernstein’s relationship with the Jacobs School dates back to the early 1970s, when he invited 30 IU students to perform his opera Trouble in Tahiti in Israel, on the 30th anniversary of his first conducting there.

In 1988, Bernstein provided another international opportunity for IU student musicians, 100 of whom he arranged to perform at the Paris Opera for the Bastille Day Bicentennial.

That same year, 250 IU students were recruited for a concert of Bernstein’s Mass at Tanglewood.

In 1981, Bernstein had spent several months in Bloomington “workshopping” what would be his final opera, A Quiet Place. Writing at night, the composer would, by day, bring scores to student singers, who would quickly learn them and provide feedback.

During his time on campus, Bernstein spent many hours at the home of Jacobs School Dean Emeritus Charles Webb and his wife Kenda, for whom he penned the composition “Mr. and Mrs. Webb Say Goodnight,” from his collection of Arias and Barcarolles.

“It’s extraordinary to have so many talented people in one place,” Bernstein remarked from Bloomington. To the dean, he reiterated, “I hope you know what you have in your school.”

Bernstein’s affection for IU was underscored in 1987 by his establishment of the Leonard Bernstein Scholarship at the Jacobs School of Music, which is given to two students each year.
Housing the memorabilia of an American music legend is not new for Indiana University, which also boasts a Hoagy Carmichael Room.

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