I am honored to celebrate Leonard Bernstein’s centennial today by posting a mini-portfolio of my mom Ruth Orkin’s photographs from Tanglewood and Lewisohn Stadium in the late 40’s!
I’ve included a short memory from when he spoke at her memorial in 1985, which is included on the Leonard Bernstein website. So thrilled to be attending the celebration and special concert tonight at Tanglewood!!!
www.LeonardBernstein.com/at100 – Memory Project
When Lenny spoke at my mom’s memorial
My mom, the photographer Ruth Orkin, knew Bernstein from one of her earliest assignments when she was hired to take a photo of him with the New York City Symphony. She really got to know him when she went up to Tanglewood and shot the rehearsals all summer. They became friends, and before she passed away in 1985, he offered to write the text for a book of all the photos. After she died, I asked if he would speak at her memorial, and he accepted. It all came together beautifully.
He was attending opening night of the Metropolitan Opera with Franco Zeffirelli, and the memorial was at the Ethical Culture Society a block away. He seemed to slip in with his tux and tails and caused quite a stir when people recognized him. I spoke briefly, and then introduced him. He made some personal remarks about her, and also said a few words in Hebrew. It was short, but very meaningful, and I will be forever grateful and she would have loved it. To top it off, Isaac Stern also spoke and played some Bach for Ruth.
Mary Engel, New York, NY, United States
All photographs Copyright Ruth Orkin.