No figure in 20th century American classical music had as prominent or controversial a career -- or did more to sell classical music to the general public as something genuinely exciting, and worth getting into a sweat over -- than Leonard Bernstein. For more than 30 years, from his assumption of the post of Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in 1958 until the final concerts that he conducted in obviously failing health near the end of his life in 1990, he was the most prominent and widely recognized American-born conductor in the world, and the dominant personality in American classical music as both a conductor and, to a lesser degree, a composer. A flamboyant public figure, he burst three different times on the musical world -- twice in classical with a rush of success on Broadway in between -- in a blaze of glory, in the space of 15 years; and over a career lasting from the early '40s until the beginning of the '90s, he never lost an opportunity to advance his reputation as well as the cause of music. In the process, he opened new musical horizons to millions of listeners and thousands of would-be performers who might never have otherwise discovered them. And most who were around to see him in the years when he was at the New York Philharmonic, either as an assistant conductor or a guest conductor for such events as the Lewisohn Stadium concerts, or as Music Director, remember him as vividly as they recall Elvis Presley or the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, or hearing the Sgt. Pepper album for the first time -- in those years, like no one before or since, Bernstein made classical music exciting, even sexy; he made it sing to people who'd never appreciated it before and speak to people who'd never understood it.