A salute to Leonard Bernstein's birthday, courtesy of Lauren Bacall, Stephen Sondheim

For many of us, Leonard Bernstein will always loom large. The conductor/composer/mentor/mensch left an enormous mark not just on the classical music and theater worlds, but on the world, period.

I owe a lot of my own views about music and, especially, music-making to Bernstein. Although I only met him once, and all too briefly, during a crazy evening that started at the Kennedy Center and ended up at the Watergate Hotel (no, silly, not that kind of evening), I came to feel that he was a part of my life somehow.

Every time I heard him conduct, every time I heard one of his recordings, I felt he was talking to me. Silly, I know, but that's how it was -- how it still is.

Bernstein, who died too soon in 1990, would have turned 96 today, Aug. 25. To mark his birthday, I offer this delectable performance by the late, great Lauren Bacall, introduced by the late, great Beverly Sills, singing "The Saga of Lenny" by the one-and-only (and very much still with us) Stephen Sondheim. 

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