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Leonard Bernstein: The Man, His Music, and His Mission


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Full course description

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Course Introduction

Leonard Bernstein, the Man, the Music, and the Mission is an online, self-paced course that offers an exploration into the extraordinary life of one of the world’s most impactful and iconic artists. The four modules that make up the course include rarely-seen videos and invite engaging discussion. Participants are provided with expert guidance and insights into the brilliance of Bernstein’s music, his monumental achievements, and the challenging issues he confronted throughout his life. By focusing on Bernstein’s significance and legacy, the course brings awareness and clarity to his music and accomplishments as a composer, conductor, pianist, and educator. Importantly, it also focuses on his impact as a humanitarian and social activist.

Each of the four online modules includes three presentations (from 20 to 45 minutes) that equal about 10 hours and are designed for self-study. This course features exclusive interviews with Bloomington luminaries as well as Stephen Wadsworth (librettist and close friend) and members of the Bernstein family: Alexander Bernstein and Jamie Bernstein. Additional bonus videos, interviews, and resources are provided throughout the course.

Taught by an expert in music and social impact, Constance Cook Glen, the course is suitable for anyone with an interest in Leonard Bernstein, 20th-century music for Broadway & the concert hall, the arts & social change, and the arts & politics.

Cost is $75 for the course.

Module Topics

  • Module 1: The Beginnings
    • Who was Leonard Bernstein? The Early Years and Watershed Moments
    • The 1940s: Fancy Free and On the Town
    • Bernstein’s Beliefs: the “Artist-Citizen”

  • Module 2: Social Activism and the Music
    • Voltaire’s Candide, Modern Times and Music
    • West Side Story and the Romeo and Juliet Lens
    • Social Activism and the Power of Art

  • Module 3: Religion and Politics
    • Close to the Heart: Religion and Music
    • Music, Religion, and Politics
    • Music, Politics, and Celebration
  • Module 4: Final Years and Lasting Impact
    • The Eighties: American Stories, Public and Private
    • Final Years
    • Legacy of the “Artist-Citizen”

Learning Outcomes

After completing the modules, you will be able to:

  • Listen and reflect on the music of Leonard Bernstein
  • Engage with the music and mission of Leonard Bernstein
  • Recognize specific pieces of music and appreciate their musical importance
  • Understand Bernstein's personal and social goals, and identify how those are apparent in his music
  • Learn about Bernstein's role and legacy as an "artist-citizen" (or "citizen-artist"), creating a model for generations to come

Meet the Creator

Connie Cook Glen

Lead content creator Constance Cook Glen is a Teaching Professor and Director of the Music in General Studies program for the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Besides her extensive interest in the life, artistry, and legacy of Leonard Bernstein, her research focuses on the American musical, music of war and peace, and music listening and perception.

Glen is committed to impacting social change through music and with Kelley School of Business, Business Law and Ethics professor Tim Fort is the co-creator of two International summits, entitled: “Music, Business and Peace.” She has presented numerous papers in this vein, including Leonard Bernstein’s legacy as an artist-citizen, the politics of Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Gershwin’s role in race and the American musical identity.

Glen's passion for Leonard Bernstein shines through every video, and her commitment to the music and mission promise to make this course an unforgettable experience.



Length: Self-paced


Jacobs School of Music


Credit: Certificate of completion


Audience: Anyone with an interest in music

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