Episode #31

Alex and Jamie Bernstein

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Monday, December 24, 2012


Two of Leonard Bernstein’s three children—Jamie and Alexander—speak to Alec about growing up with the maestro. And while they knew him in the tux and tails, they also knew him as the dad who loved games—he was a killer at anagrams—and was always up for tennis, squash, skiing, or touch football. 

The two talk about listening to music—Jamie says she learned “more about music by listening to The Beatles with my dad than I think I did any other way”—and how their father's relationship to fame evolved during his lifetime. Alex remembers his dad saying, “I’m so sick of Leonard Bernstein. I've had it with him."

READ | Interview Transcript

Special thanks to Jenny Houser, Andy Lanset, Ryan Lohr, Brent Reno, Mark Travis and Craig Urquhart.


Jamie Bernstein
Steve J. Sherman
Jamie Bernstein
Alexander Bernstein
Alexander Bernstein
Alexander Bernstein

Hosted by:

Alec Baldwin

Produced by:

Emily Botein and Kathie Russo

Comments [30]

cindy from Guilford, CT

I remember Jamie and Alex from Camp JCC in Stepney, CT where I was in the "chorus" when Jamie was the lead in "Bell Are Ringing" and Alex the lead in "Oliver." Had a crush on Alex then, too. Biggest thrill was knowing that Leonard Bernstein was in the audience. Wonderful memories.

Aug. 02 2014 08:51 PM
Rona Novis Brackett from Napa

Jamie, I was lucky to meet your dad and audition for him when I was fifteen. I have heard a lot about you from your dad. My daughter, Aurora, was inspired by him, especially when he signed a children's book I wrote and wrote a note to Aurora when she won a prize for writing when she was nine.
I am going to "Trouble in Tahiti" at Festival del Sole, can't wait to see you conduct. I would love to congratulate you for your great work. I also have some pictures of your dad from his 70th birthday party and with 40 relatives, including my mom and aunt Nathalie Good from Hartford, and a picture of your dad and me in San Francisco. How is Harry Kraut? How is your uncle Burton? Burton stayed in touch with Nathalie until she passed nine years ago. He was so kind to her. I hope to meet you. Your brother came to Salvador School in Napa and trained the teachers to teach music throughout the day. I worked for the principal at Salvador. I was a teacher at Napa Valley Language Academy.

I can't wait to hear this concert right before my 65th birthday.

Apr. 28 2014 11:26 PM
David Kiley from Dallas, Texas

Thanks for the kind words about my Dad Jim Kiley, Alex and Jamie!!! and a shout out to you Nina!!!...your memories of your days as guides, and mine as a grounds crew schlep, and my memory of you all, brought back so
many memories of Tanglewood...what a journey!!! nearly 59 now and living in Texas...hope to re-connect with you all at some point....God Bless the memory of your Dad, the memory of "our" Dad's...Jim left us not soon after the Maestro did, and is buried in the Lenox/Stockbridge area, not far from the wonderful place we grew I miss the Berkshires!!!...great friends, great memories...!!! Be well..

Jan. 20 2014 07:40 AM
Vic from .

I grew up knowing the name, Leonard Bernstein, & some of his music.
But I never knew of the man.
Thank you, Alec, for having this interview.
Beautiful ~>

Nov. 02 2013 07:03 PM
Edward Parone from New Mexico

You have got to listen more, Alec. Take a look at Dick Cavett's interviews.

Apr. 27 2013 01:07 PM

Hey Alec, great interview.

Have you considered interviewing Springsteen?!


Apr. 18 2013 04:26 PM
Landlocked Listener from Midwest

Alec made a couple comments, at least one of which was alluded to above, where he seemed to project Alec's own heterosexuality onto Bernstein. I found that peculiar and inaccurate. Those comments made me cringe. Obviously, Bernstein was functionally bisexual, but I suspect, rather strongly, that were Bernstein born more recently, that wouldn't have been the path he would have taken, or needed to take. I suspect Lenny appreciated his wife's or other women's physical beauty in about the same way Alec appreciates Lenny's physical beauty -- but such appreciations do not a true bisexual make. Anyway, it was a very interesting interview, and I'm eager to follow Alec's career in this area; however, if this interview is any indication, he needs to learn the art of being quiet, and letting the subject have 95% of the floor, and never, ever interrupt, save to abide time restrictions. Probably the best model for what I'm referring to is Charlie Rose. Terry Gross is excellent as well. Neither is wont to interrupt or draw attention away from the subject.

Feb. 24 2013 05:09 PM
Castorp from NYC

David Hughes- Mahler's 9th Symphony, 4th movement, is the closing piece.

Feb. 05 2013 06:08 PM
Dave Z from Grand Rapids, MI

JG, the piece at the beginning of the Tanglewood portion of the interview is the third movement from the "Four Sea Interludes" by Benjamin Britten.

Feb. 03 2013 05:17 PM
Mark Sutton from San Francisco

Great show and fantastic interview. Brings back great memories of Tanglewood. What an amazing musician. Loved the story about his big opportunity - after being up all night. That's how the great ones do it -- it's prime time, you're hungover, tired, and you just do it. Love it!! Love the candidness of Alec's questions. Seems like a great family. Thanks!

Feb. 02 2013 01:02 PM
Kevin Heyer from Manasquan, NJ

Thanks for the very enjoyable Bernstein show. I found this 1970 story about his meeting with Aaron Copeland while he was still at Harvard: At the time, one of my close friends was a fellow student who went by the name of I. B. Cohen. (He's now known as I. Bernard Cohen, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard, but nobody yet knows what the I. stands for.) He was way beyond me--a graduate student who knew everything about anything--but we did have two things in common: the name Bernstein (his mother's maiden name) and a great crush on Anna Sokolow.

Anna Sokolow was a young and very striking dancer whose recital in Boston I. B. and I had attended. We both promptly fell in love with her. When we learned that her Boston performance was in effect a pre-Broadway tryout for her New York debut, we determined that nothing in the world would stop us from going down to catch that recital.

I. B. acquired tickets through a friend of his, the poetess Muriel Rukeyser and on magical November 14, we came to New York, met Muriel, and went with her to the Guild Theater on Broadway for the recital. Our seats happened to be in the first row of the balcony; I made my way through, followed by Muriel and I. B. Already in his seat on my right was an odd-looking man in his thirties, a pair of glasses resting on his great hooked nose and a mouth filled with teeth flashing a wide grin at Muriel. She leaned across to greet him, then introduced us: "Aaron Copland . . . Leonard Bernstein." I almost fell out of the balcony.

Jan. 29 2013 02:42 PM
Debbie from Cambridge, MA

JG. The music at 21:35 is the opening to an Aaron Copeland piece ... maybe Appalachian Spring?

Jan. 24 2013 12:13 PM
Norm from Michigan

Alec, general comment, Thanks so much for doing this podcast. You know the most interesting people and ask the most interesting questions. I'd love it even more if you let the guests completely answer your questions, and you interrupted less.

Jan. 14 2013 02:29 PM
JG from NYC

Anybody knows the piece playing when they are talking about Tanglewood? Starts at 21:35.

Jan. 14 2013 09:58 AM
David Ciucevich from Albany, NY

Hi Eileen!

The piece you're referring to at 27:42 is the beginning of the second movement of the Beethoven Seventh Symphony in A Major, Op. 92. It has appeared in many movies, most notably in "Mr. Holland's Opus". Bernstein conducted the Seventh at Tanglewood on what was to be his final concert. The concert was recorded and released commercially. Enjoy!!:)

All the best,


Jan. 10 2013 04:54 PM
Eileen from Quebec, Canada

Could someone please tell me the name of the music that is playing at 27:42? It's played before and after they discuss their father's death. I heard this in a movie recently and didn't get to check the credits.

What a treat to listen to Alec Baldwin's HERE'S THE THING!

Thank you very much,

Eileen Donnelly

Jan. 08 2013 04:38 PM
clive betters

yeah, i've typos galore[no self correcting software either] and my structure stinks,so shoot me. look at the message not the style...

Jan. 07 2013 07:02 AM
clive betters

i guess 'Fresh air', is a gold standard to measure everything else. again, fresh air is fine,but this is a different animal. i feel that alecs engagement brings out things that others, ie terry gross, leave on the floor. i don't have a problem with his largeness or the "cutting off". it's a freewheeling conversation that invites others to step up[or not]. if 'Here's The Thing', were the norm, and Q&A programs were more the exception ,would people still feel this antagonistic to alec's style? why can't we have an interviewer with an ego,we have idiots flaunting their extrovesion all over the place[in politics, reality tv etc]. why in the hell do you want to censor a guy with a bit of attitude, who is also very smart. i hate agreeing with NPR detractors,but part of this is about the morbid stuffiness that too many people that listen to NPR, have.

Jan. 07 2013 06:55 AM
MVC from Chicago from IL

I do enjoy this program, and this interview in particular. HOWEVER, I do wish Alec Baldwin would try to listen more than he talks. He invites fascinating guests to interview, but we end up hearing as much about him; his comments, thoughts, and musings as much his guest. We don't need to constantly hear how smart he is, he's made the point.
Alec, please listen to this interview as an example of how you don't listen, cut your guests off mid-sentence and continually try to one-up them. It's very irritating!!!. Maybe you should interview yourself and get it out of our system. Or, listen to Terry Gross if you want to hear how a real pro does it.

Jan. 06 2013 05:29 PM
clive betters

so, if jamie is more of a talker/interupter,it's alecs job to rework their personalities;and allow alex to have more speak time,in order to "balance out" the interview.......i see......

Jan. 02 2013 12:31 PM
MEM from NY, NY

I'm a big fan of "Here's The Thing" - Alec is engaging, precise and can delve into the practical aspects of life with guests (e.g. what did your mother think of all this?) - but I had a bit of a problem with the flow of this interview. I agree with RobRoy's comments that Jamie continually interrupts her brother throughout the session. Classic older sibling syndrome? Maybe, but it definitely makes the interview choppy. Not very melodious -- ironic given the topic.

Dec. 31 2012 06:31 AM

Excellent interview. You can find a video clip of the Who's 1970 performance at Tanglewood on YouTube, and I vaguely recall that an extended excerpt from the show may have been released on DVD around 18 years ago.

Dec. 30 2012 10:05 AM

Jamie, like Alec, is a compulsive interrupter. Its too bad she interrupted her brother, Alexander, so much. It would have been nice to hear more from him.

Dec. 29 2012 09:21 PM
Dave Hughes

Loved the interview, as I do all of them. I wanted to ask what was the name of the piece that was played near the end of the interview? Was it a Mahler piece? I'd love to get it.

Dec. 28 2012 09:49 PM
Dan McCue from Charleston, S.C.

Alec, I love this show. You are a super talented interviewer. I really enjoy your manner and the knowledge you bring to conversation. A lost art, conversation, but this show is a terrific example of the form!

Dec. 27 2012 03:04 PM
Shawna Kelley

I see Aunt Clara's piano 5-6 days a week.

Dec. 27 2012 01:37 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Joseph McCarthy, I hear ya.

Dec. 26 2012 01:06 PM
Joseph McCarthy from WI - 1950s

Baldwin:" of the piano... love of of women..."
I suppose that in 2012 there is still a love that dare not speak its name.
For shame.

Dec. 24 2012 06:17 PM
Ms. JFT from L.I.,N.Y.

Gee Alec, it's too bad you were born too late to hangout with Leonard Bernstein. Yes, that would have been "Amazing"! I truly enjoyed your interview with Jamie and Alex Bernstein, two of Leonard's children. Fascinating. Keep up the great interviews. I so much enjoy listening to them. It's very cool getting to know a little about these very accomplished, remarkable talents of our times. Thank you for sharing!

Dec. 24 2012 03:12 PM
clive betters

Baldwin and it....

Dec. 24 2012 07:06 AM

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