It Is the Artists of This World, the Feelers and Thinkers, Who Will Ultimately Save Us

Leonard Bernstein? Apocryphal?

tanglewood08Dear Quote Investigator: The late 1960s and early 1970s were a time of societal upheaval and uncertainty in the United States. The prominent conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein who was well-known for crafting the music of “West Side Story” delivered a speech during which he asserted that only the artists of the world could save the world. I would like to include an excerpt from the speech in a book, but I have not been able to trace it. Would you please examine this topic?

Quote Investigator: On June 28, 1970 Leonard Bernstein gave an address at the opening exercises of the Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts, and shortly afterward excerpts were printed in “The Boston Globe”. The article title mentioned Bernstein’s theme of hope and the artist’s role in a chaotic world: 1

It is the artists of this world, the feelers and thinkers, who will ultimately save us, who can articulate, educate, defy, insist, sing, and shout the big dreams. Only the artists can turn the “not-yet” into reality.

How do you do it? Find out what you can do well, uniquely well, and then do it for all you’re worth. And I don’t mean “doing your own thing” in the hip sense. That’s passivity, that’s dropping out, that’s not doing anything. I’m talking about doing, which means serving your community, whether it’s a tiny town or six continents.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading It Is the Artists of This World, the Feelers and Thinkers, Who Will Ultimately Save Us


  1. 1970 July 05, Boston Globe, Bernstein’s message: hope: Tanglewood address stresses artist’s role in chaotic world by Leonard Bernstein (Advisor to Tanglewood, Conductor Laureate, New York Philharmonic), (Extracts from an address given at the opening exercises at Tanglewood, June 28, 1970), Start Page A19, Quote Page A22, Column 8, Boston, Massachusetts. (ProQuest)