The letters, written ca. 1980-85, are particularly interesting for Coates's comments on the music and activities of Bernstein during the period. The correspondence also discusses the legacy of the pianist and teacher Rosina Lhevinne as well as other musical and personal matters. Included are 3 letters from Lhevinne's student and video-biographer Salome Arkatov.
"Bernstein’s legacy looms large in each area that he worked. West Side Story remains his most important work, but his mastery of the Broadway idiom is just as clear in his other shows. Mass remains a powerful piece and is finding new audiences. Bernstein’s concert music includes many enduring works, especially Chichester Psalms, and orchestral pieces based upon his popular shows also continue to be programmed. His fame as a conductor has barely diminished since his death, and many of his recordings remain critically and commercially popular. That he will also be remembered as one of America’s most important musical educators seems certain." Paul R. Laird and David Schiff in Grove Music Online.
Coates was Bernstein's first piano teacher of note; he began his studies with her at the age of 14.
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