If Toscanini was broadcasting’s first superstar conductor, then Leonard Bernstein may have been the last. His “Young People’s Concerts” on CBS’s Omnibus made him one of the few American classical musicians ever to be a household name in America. This 1958 show, where he explains (influenced by his friend Aaron Copland) that music has no inherent meaning and should be appreciated for itself, rather than for non-musical associations, became so famous that Mad Magazine’s Dave Berg did a cartoon about it, where kids follow Leonard Bernstein’s instructions not to think about the Lone Ranger during the William Tell Overture, but their father screams “Hi-ho, Silver!”
And while he was famous as a conductor and TV personality in 1958, it was also his glory time as a composer; his biggest hit, West Side Story, was still running on Broadway, and his earlier hit, Wonderful Town, was
broadcast live on CBS with the original star, Rosalind Russell. Here’s the famous “Conga!” number.