How I Won $10 from Leonard Bernstein

Jan 4, 2021

Credit SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

Did I ever tell you that I once won ten dollars from Leonard Bernstein? When I was a student at Juilliard I learned the Viola Concerto by William Walton, and one evening I played through it for my violinist friend Alexis Galpérine. Alexis noticed that the Walton reminded him very much of the Violin Concerto in D Major by Sergei Prokofiev, and on closer examination we saw that there was no question that Walton had indeed patterned his concerto directly after the Prokofiev.  

Several years later I was playing in the National Symphony Orchestra, when Bernstein came to conduct. The Walton was on the program with a guest soloist, and during the rehearsal Bernstein stopped and said, “I’ll give ten dollars to anyone who can tell me which piece this Walton Concerto is directly modeled on.” I raised my hand and said, “The Prokofiev D Major Violin Concerto.” Bernstein looked at me and said, “Well… I’m glad I didn’t say fifty.” And a few minutes later, he paid up.

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.