Undergrad Finds Room to Explore Business, Computing, and American Music Icon: NewsCenter


December 16, 2021

Jacob Rose ’24, who plans to major in business with an emphasis on computer science, uses funding from the Meliora Scholars program to continue his research into how Leonard Bernstein has helped the American public gain a new appreciation modern composers during the turbulent 1960s. (Photo University of Rochester / J. Adam Fenster)


Rochester’s flexible program gives Jacob Rose a chance to research Leonard Bernstein.

Jacob Rose ’24 will spend the winter holidays at New York Public Library and the Library of Congress, looking at more than 3,800 letters, notes, musical scores and everything about the American musical icon, Leonard Bernstein.

“I’ve always admired him as a person,” says Rose, who studies how Bernstein helped American audiences gain a new appreciation for modern composers during the turbulent 1960s.

Rose is considering major in business with an emphasis on IT at Rochester University. However, thanks to Rochester’s open program, Rose also has the opportunity to explore his passion for music, which began when he started taking piano lessons at the age of 5.

Rose intends to earn a minor in music and audio and musical engineering. He took piano lessons at the famous school Eastman School of Music. He has even provided keyboard accompaniment for several vocal groups and student musical ensembles, most recently playing in the pit orchestra for a recent Off Broadway on campus showcase.

And Rose received a $ 3,000 Meliora Scholarship to support her Bernstein research project, which will likely result in a research paper, presentation, or both.

Focus on the composer, conductor, humanitarian

leonard bernstein sits at the piano and does a notation on the sheet music

Leonard Bernstein in 1955 (Library of Congress)

According to the music critic Donal henahan, Bernstein was “one of the most amazingly talented and successful musicians in American history.” The famous composer of West Side Story was the first US-born conductor to lead a major American symphony orchestra and the first conductor to share and explore music on television with mass audiences, including a popular concert series For the young. He was also a Vietnam War protester and a strong advocate for civil rights, nuclear disarmament, and HIV / AIDS research and awareness.

Rose says he first got to know Bernstein by playing and listening to his music from West Side Story. “But I also listened to a lot of plays that he conducted,” he says.

Rose, originally from Baltimore, Md., Also follows Marin Alsop, the conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra who studied with Bernstein. Her Instagram posts and the concert notes reinforced his interest in Bernstein, as did his foreword in Concerts for young people Leonard Bernstein by Alicia Kopfstein-Penk.

Leonard Bernstein and Rochester

Rochester reporter Michael Nighan reports that: In 1945 Leonard Bernstein credited Margaret Grant, faculty member of the Eastman School of Music, for helping him start his career by introducing him to Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and an important influence in Bernstein’s musical life. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra passed up a chance to hire Bernstein as a conductor in 1947. During the screening period, Bernstein conducted the RPO six times and took it on a concert tour in six. States and eight cities.

In 2011, University of Rochester alumnus Elizabeth Wells’ 04E (PhD) wrote an award-winning book on the West Side Story.

In 2019, Bernstein’s daughter Jamie, a writer, broadcaster and narrator, gave a talk on her father’s legacy at the University of Rochester.

After consulting Joan Rubin, director Ani and Mark Gabrellian of the Humanities Center, and Matthew BaileyShea, associate professor of music and chair of the Arthur Satz music department, Rose decided to focus her Meliora Scholars project specifically on Bernstein’s relationship with this which was defined as “popular” music in its day and compare that with “the current calculation that classical music goes through,” he says.

“As musicians, we try to introduce new styles and genres of music, moving away from the tradition of performing the music of mainly old, white European composers. I’m going to look at Bernstein as both a composer and an educator, and how he transformed the world of music. “

So far, most of his research has been done online or by reading books from the University’s music and art collections. But Rose is already intrigued by what he learns.

“There’s a quote that says people normally look to music for comfort during times of uncertainty, and there was a lot of unrest in the 1960s,” Rose said. “But serious music in those days didn’t really appeal to audiences.”

Bernstein helped “change the canon of the stage,” bringing Gustav Mahler back into the symphony hall and championing American composers like Aaron Copland and some Modernist composers, Rose says.

He can’t wait to learn more. “Just the introduction to one of the books gave me so many sources to explore,” says Rose.

“I am incredibly grateful to the Meliora Scholars Program for giving me the opportunity to explore the life and impact of Leonard Bernstein,” said Rose. “I have loved getting involved in the performance aspect of music for so many years, but being able to research a topic that I haven’t yet explored is definitely a gift.”


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Keywords: Arts and Engineering Sciences, Humanities, School of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Research

Category: Student life


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