This month on the Deerfield Public Library Podcast, we have the honor of presenting a fascinating conversation with world-famous pianist Seymour Bernstein.
You may know Seymour as the subject of the widely acclaimed 2015 documentary Seymour, an Introduction, directed by Ethan Hawke. The film tells Seymour’s inspiring story of abandoning his solo concert career at age 50, and, at the end of the documentary, performing again in his 80s. Yet, as we discuss in this interview, there are other ways to tell this story. Now in his mid-90s (he turns 96 this April), Seymour reflects on his decision to leave solo performing as a necessary refocusing, following his creative impulse to compose, write his books, and study music.
In his 90s, Seymour has been busy making new recordings, continuing to teach, and even becoming a viral YouTube sensation, releasing videos with the music education streaming service ToneBase, as well as on his channel. He shares with us deep reflections on following your intuition in musical interpretation and in life.
Seymour Bernstein is also the author of several books, including With Your Own Two Hands: Self-Discovery Through Music (1981), as well as a memoir, Monsters and Angels: Surviving a Career in Music (2002). In addition to Seymour’s reflections on interpreting Beethoven, Chopin, and Schubert we hear some of the under-explored stories from his long career. You’ll hear memories of TV appearances with the singer Kate Smith (of “God Bless America” fame), his Army service in the Korean War, State Department tours around the world, Leonard Bernstein, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and his line of teachers, Alexander Brailowsky, Sir Clifford Curzon, and Clara Husserl. Finally, Seymour reflects on what he feels has supported his continued long and productive life in the arts.
You can check out and watch Seymour, an Introduction through the Library streaming service Kanopy or find the DVD here on the Deerfield Public Library shelves.
We hope you enjoy our 57th interview episode with Seymour Bernstein! Each month (or so) we release an episode featuring a conversation with an author, artist, or other notable guests from Chicagoland or around the world. Learn more about the podcast on our podcast page. You can listen to all of our episodes in the player below or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. We welcome your comments and feedback—please send it to email@example.com.