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April 14, 2017

UMS in the Classroom: New York Philharmonic


Bernstein with children courtesy of New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives

Interested in using a UMS performance in your university classroom? For each performance on the season, we provide suggested curricular connections, links to contextual material online, citations for scholarly material, and prompts for classroom discussion. For additional resources and individualized curricular support, please contact Shannon Fitzsimons Moen, UMS Campus Engagement Specialist, at or (734) 764-3903.

UMS is also committed to making our performances an affordable part of the academic experience. Our Classroom Ticket Program provides $15 tickets to students and faculty for performances that are a course requirement. Please email to set up a group order.


This performance may connect meaningfully with courses in the following schools and disciplines:

  • American Culture
  • English Language and Literature
  • Comparative Literature
  • History
  • History of Art
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Composition
  • Music Education
  • Musicology
  • Voice
  • Strings
  • Piano
  • Winds & Percussion
  • Theatre and Drama
  • Musical Theatre
  • Art & Design
  • Business


  • On January 27, 2016, the New York Philharmonic announced that Jaap van Zweden will be their new Music Director starting with the 2018-19 season, and will act as Music Director Designate during 2017-18.  He has been Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra since 2008, holding the Louise W. & Edmund J. Kahn Music Directorship, and will continue in that role through the 2017-18 season, after which he becomes Conductor Laureate. He also continues as Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, a post he has held since 2012. Learn more here.
  • Discover Leonard Bernstein’s “Kaddish” Symphony and listen to excerpts on NPR’s “Weekly Edition”.
  • On November 19, 2017, the New York Philharmonic is recreating one of Leonard Bernstein’s beloved Young People’s Concerts. This concert will explore all aspects of Bernstein’s life including his indelible contributions to American concert life, Broadway musicals, and opera. Watch one of Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts online here.
  • New York Philharmonic archivist Barbara Haws and Leonard Bernstein’s son Burton examine Bernstein’s rich and multi-faceted legacy with the orchestra in Leonard Bernstein: American Original (Collins, 2008).


  • In Strauss’s Don Quixote, the cello represents Sancho Panza and the viola represents Don Quixote. What similarities do you see between the sound qualities of each instrument and/or the music played by each instrument and the characterization of these figures in Cervantes’s novel?
  • Leonard Bernstein was a renowned expert and advocate of Gustav Mahler’s music, and the two composer-conductors are often considered “aesthetic twins[…]separated at birth.” Learn about Bernstein’s special connection to the music of Mahler in this Washington Post feature (2006).
  • In the famous fourth movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, harp and strings play alone while the rest of the orchestra “tacets” or rests. Considering the emotional shape of this movement and its placement within the symphony as a whole, why might Mahler have used these instruments on their own instead of the entire orchestra? How does this decision affect the pacing of the symphony? What is Mahler trying to “say” through this music?