FRANKFURT — Around symphonic circles, Leonard Bernstein is known as a man with the beat, and it was indeed a beat Bernstein that stopped off here en route to Berlin.
Unshaven and sleepless after an overnight flight from the States, Bernstein explained that he and the New York Philharmonic are just completing a six-week tour that has included such unlikely performances as playing Bartok in Las Vegas.
"We do two concerts in Berlin and return immediately to open the New York season," he added. "We were sent over to represent the U.S. at the Berlin Music Festival and also to make a TV tape that will be the first of a new series."
Unlike the traditional terrible-tempered maestros who wield batons over the major symphonies, Bernstein is informal with a vengeance. "Kids call me Lennie."
Bernstein said he felt the musical frontiers of America have advanced tremendously in the past 15 years. "When you can reach 30 million people on TV, many of whom have never been exposed to good music before, the results can be amazing. The people are growing up."
Just finishing his third tour in as many years, Bernstein was asked if the long trips and concerts didn't prove exhausting to himself and the orchestra.
"No, the music doesn't suffer and the men return in the peak of form. But I get tired of interviews and the social life."