Bernstein always knew how important it was to pass one's knowledge on to
younger generations. As a young man in Tanglewood in 1940, he made an
unforgettable experience: a summer spent in an atmosphere of relaxed
creativity with a charismatic teacher (Serge Koussevitzky) and a great
orchestra (the Boston Symphony). Later, when he returned to Tanglewood as a
teacher, he gave his best to the students of the Berkshire Music Center.
And it is his experiences there which stimulated him to create something
similar in Europe. The venue was the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival. In
1987 120 young musicians from all over the world were invited to Salzau
Palace to form the Festival Orchestra, which rehearsed and performed under
the direction of Leonard Bernstein. At the same time, Bernstein worked with
young conductors in master classes.
From 1987 to 1989, Bernstein devoted himself with astonishing energy to his
work with the festival students. And each summer, Unitel was there to
document this for posterity. In 1989, his final summer in Salzau, Bernstein
chose Berlioz's vocal symphony Roméo et Juliette. Written in 1839, it
illustrates a series of episodes from Shakespeare's play and involves
chorus, soloists and a large orchestra. Seeking new ways of capturing on
film the unique combination of creative exchange and festival atmosphere,
Unitel director Horant Hohlfeld turned to a new technique of underlaying
the final concert with scenes from the rehearsals.