Bernstein had been appointed Assistant Conductor for the New York Philharmonic only a few months before that night. Just 25 years old, he was relatively inexperienced. At the last minute, Bernstein was told he was to take Walter's place, so he did not have any time to rehearse. The music he was going to conduct was very difficult. Plus, the concert was going to be broadcast nationally on the radio. Despite all these pressures, Bernstein rose to the occasion and received a standing ovation at the end of the concert. The event made national headlines, and Bernstein became famous overnight.
Some people feel they do their best under the most stressful of circumstances. Have you ever been asked to do something you weren't prepared to do? How well were you able to perform? What was it about Leonard Bernstein that made him do so well in such a difficult situation?