On Feedback, a la Bernstein & Copland

There have been times in my life when people have given me feedback that was really hard to hear in the moment. Even about things I was doing my best to do very well because they were so important to me. And in retrospect it has often been the hardest-to-hear feedback that turned out to be the most useful once I wrapped my head (and ego) around it. So I offer this quote from a Harvard Magazine article about Leonard Bernstein’s letters in hopes it can reassure any of us who have been in that position that it happens to everyone, even the “best” of us:

“…Bernstein conducted the European premiere of Copland’s Third Symphony in Prague with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. ‘First I must say it’s a wonderful work,’ he reported to Copland. ‘Coming to know it so much better I find in it new lights and shades—and new faults,’ launching an audacious critique. ‘Sweetie, the end is a sin. You’ve got to change….We must talk – about the whole last movement, in fact.’”


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