Netflix’s biographical drama film ‘Maestro’ opens a window to legendary musician Leonard Bernstein’s personal life, exploring his relationship with his wife Felicia Montealegre, and their children Jamie, Alexander, and Nina. Bernstein is a loving father who takes care of his children even when his married life with Felicia confronts several challenges, including his sexual orientation. Realizing the significance of Bernstein’s place in the hearts of his children, Bradley Cooper dedicated his film to the three of them. Jamie, Alexander, and Nina were guiding lights for Cooper and they even defended his vision for the film when it was the subject of public scrutiny!
Where is Jamie Bernstein Now?
Jamie Bernstein is now a musician, author, and filmmaker living in New York. She entered the world of music as a young adult. In 1984, she married David Thomas, with whom she has a son and a daughter. The married couple’s relationship didn’t survive long after the death of Leonard Bernstein in 1990. Jamie realized that she had a lot to do in the world of music after starting a music program at her daughter’s preschool. She then started The Bernstein Beat, a project aimed at bringing music to young people as her father did with Young People’s Concerts. The project focused on Bernstein’s compositions and it took her to various parts of the world, including countries like China and Cuba.
Hey radio fans! Tune in to WQXR tonight, 7 pm eastern; I'll be playing DJ, spinning some awesome Bernstein recordings — and spinning some yarns too!https://t.co/WKz5Gyz7AL
— Jamie Bernstein (@JamieBNYC) December 19, 2023
Along with Elizabeth Kling, Jamie directed ‘Crescendo! The Power of Music,’ a documentary that revolves around three children who participate in youth orchestra programs. Netflix secured the rights to the documentary after it was screened at the Philadelphia Film Festival. When conductor Michael Tilson Thomas of Miami-based New World Symphony asked her to design and present educational concerts, she nodded yes to the opportunity as well. Jamie described the project as “the best job ever” for her. She is the editor of “Prelude, Fugue & Riffs,” a newsletter published by The Leonard Bernstein Office about news concerning the musician.
In 2018, Jamie published her memoir ‘Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein,’ which revolves around her experience of growing up in the Bernstein family. The book offers a rare insight into her relationship with her father. For the classical music streaming service IDAGIO, she collaborated in the creation of an online course concerning Bernstein’s music. Jamie’s directorial works include her father’s chamber opera ‘Trouble in Tahiti,’ which was performed in various venues such as Moab Music Festival, Festival del Sole in Napa, Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood, etc.
In addition to Jamie’s memoir, she has also written poems and articles, which were featured in publications such as Symphony, DoubleTake, Musical America, etc. She is an eminent speaker of music. Jamie participates in several music-related programs hosted in various parts of the country. Earlier this year, she hosted WNYC Radio’s podcast ‘The NY Phil Story: Made in New York,’ which narrates the history of the New York Philharmonic.
Where is Alexander Bernstein Now?
Alexander is the president of Artful Learning, an organization that advocates the educational model initiated by Leonard Bernstein, which motivates educators to use art and artistic processes in teaching. The organization collaborates with various schools in the country to propagate the need for art in the curriculums with the aim of academic achievement. Alexander also serves as the vice president and treasurer of The Leonard Bernstein Office. He previously worked at the Packer-Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, New York, as a second-grade teacher and later as a teacher of drama for the middle school.
Alexander was also a part of the ABC News Documentary Unit as a production associate. He made his debut as an actor in Sidney Lumet’s 1983 drama film ‘Daniel’ as well. He is a prominent presence in events that revolve around Bernstein’s music. Like his sister Jamie, Alexander continues to share his insights about his father’s compositions and creations.
Where is Nina Bernstein Now?
Nina Bernstein has been working as a food educator in underserved communities since 2008. “You grow up and all your life people are saying, ‘Are you musical? What do you play?’ It’s the inevitable question. We all took piano lessons but… Well, here I am in a line of work that is completely, diametrically, different from anything to do with Leonard Bernstein. I teach kids to cook and love food and there’s nothing about Leonard Bernstein in that,” Nina told HuffPost about her current life. Before serving as an educator, she worked as an actress at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Then Nina’s focus shifted to preserving the legacy of her father Bernstein. She collaborated with the Library of Congress to make the Bernstein Archives available in digital for the public to dive into his life and body of work. Like Jamie, Nina is also a filmmaker who made ‘Leonard Bernstein: A Total Embrace.’ The documentary follows Jamie’s efforts to spread the music of their father across the world. She is married to film producer Rudd Simmons, whose credits include Wes Anderson’s ‘The Royal Tenenbaums,’ Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron-starrer ‘The Road,’ and HBO’s ‘Boardwalk Empire.’
Jamie, Nina, and Alexander helped Bradley Cooper to bring his vision to the screen as ‘Maestro.’ “Bradley was so generous about including my brother and sister and me with him on his own journey with this film — which was something he didn’t have to do, necessarily,” Jamie told People. “Once we gave him permission to make the film, he could’ve just gone off and never consulted with us again, had he wanted to. But, instead, he made us part of his own journey,” she added. The siblings even opened the Bernstein family’s country house in Fairfield, Connecticut, for the actor-director to shoot the film.
When Cooper was criticized and subjected to a backlash for wearing a prosthetic nose in the film, Jamie, Nina, and Alexander defended him. “It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose,” they wrote in a statement. “Bradley chose to use makeup to amplify his resemblance, and we’re perfectly fine with that. We’re also certain that our dad would have been fine with it as well,” the siblings added.