Dearest Lenny: Letters from Japan and the Making of the World Maestro

ISBN : 9780190465780

Mari Yoshihara
280 ページ
156 x 235 mm




  • New perspectives on the most famous American maestro from never before seen, intimate letters from unknown Japanese individuals
  • Brings together the growth of Bernstein's career with the growth of classical music in Asia and the internationalization of the classical recording industry
  • Weaves a narrative of intimacy and love within the history, politics, and economy of the twentieth century

Much has been written about Leonard Bernstein, a musician of extraordinary talent who was legendary for his passionate love of life and many relationships. In this work, Mari Yoshihara reveals the deeply emotional connections Bernstein formed with two little-known Japanese individuals, which she narrates through their personal letters that have never been seen before.
Dearest Lenny interweaves an intimate story of love and art with a history of Bernstein's transformation from an American icon to a world maestro during the second half of the twentieth century. The articulate, moving letters of Kazuko Amano-a woman who began writing fan letters to Bernstein in 1947 and became a close family friend-and Kunihiko Hashimoto-a young man who fell in love with the maestro in 1979 and later became his business representative-convey the meaning Bernstein and his music had at various stages of their lives. The letters also shed light on how Bernstein's compositions, recordings, and performances touched his audiences around the world. The book further traces the making of a global Bernstein amidst the shifting landscape of classical music that made this American celebrity turn increasingly to Europe and Japan. The dramatic change in Japan's place in the world and its relationship to the United States during the postwar decades shaped Bernstein's connection to the country. Ultimately, Dearest Lenny is a story of relationships-between the two individuals and Bernstein, the United States and the world, art and commerce, artists and the state, private and public, conventions and transgressions, dreams and realities-that were at the core of Bernstein's greatest achievements and challenges and that made him truly a maestro of the world.
Dearest Lenny paints a poignant portrait of individuals connected across cultures, languages, age, and status through correspondence and music-and the world that shaped their relationships.


1. An American Icon Crosses the Pacific
2. Mr. Bernstein Goes to Tokyo
3. Growing Pains
4. The Return of Two Maestros
5. The Maestro Pivots
6. Japan Beckons
7. Unions and Reunion
8. The Maestro's Place in a Changing World  
9. From Dear to Dearest
10. Faith and Resolution
11. New Beginnings
12. A Quiet Place
13. A Peaceful Place
14. Representing Lenny
15. A Summer of Prayer
16. An Early Autumn
17. The World According to the Maestro
18. Turning Point
19. Exploring the Uncharted
20. Cultivating New Soil
21. The First Harvest
22. The Last Japan Tour
23. Making the Garden Grow
Coda: Emails from Honolulu and the Making of Dearest Lenny


Mari Yoshihara is Professor of American Studies at the University of Hawaii. She is the author of Embracing the East: White Women and American Orientalism and Musicians from a Different Shore: Asians and Asian Americans in Classical Music.

"Deeply researched, quietly subversive, and unexpectedly moving, Dearest Lenny is a captivating book for the general reader interweaving three human stories-those of Bernstein and two Japanese, a man and a woman, who were in different ways in love with him--with larger issues pertaining to Japanese-US relations after World War II. Taking Bernstein's importance and stature simply as a given, Mari Yoshihara manages to illuminate his personality, musicianship, and impact in a new way, while casting light on the subjects of fame, the connections between politics, business and the arts, and the powerful role music can play in people's lives" -- Allen Shawn, author of Leonard Bernstein: An American Musician

"In this gem of a book, Mari Yoshihara ushers us to a historical theater where the political economy of the arts, post-World War II world affairs, and deeply personal stories of love and devotion intertwined to create a moving human drama surrounding Leonard Bernstein. In her deft hands, the life, artistry, and political activism of this charismatic maestro come alive, as well as the lives and work of others touched by this towering figure in the twentieth century classical music world. Written in clear, accessible prose, this book shows how disparate pieces of life and aspirations can form a creative synergy across national boundaries." -- Sayuri Guthrie-Shimizu, Rice University
"While Leonard Bernstein's status as a global celebrity is well-established, the focus has largely been on his impact in Europe and Israel. Here, Mari Yoshihara meaningfully repositions the famed conductor and composer in relation to Japan. The story is both professional and personal, and it culminates in Bernstein's longstanding relationship with Kunihiko Hashimoto, which is documented in a voluminous and intimate correspondence between the two men. Consistently insightful and deeply moving, Dearest Lenny deepens our perspective on a figure we thought we knew very well." -- Carol J. Oja, author of Bernstein Meets Broadway: Collaborative Art in a Time of War