NEW YORK, OCT. 15 -- Leonard Bernstein, who brought classical music to the masses and popular music to the elite, was mourned today as America's most passionate maestro, its greatest musician and as a man who wanted to do everything -- and did.
Radio stations played his music, especially the haunting strains of "West Side Story," television screens were filled with tributes and the flags at the New York Philharmonic, where he was conductor laureate, were flown at half-staff.
Bernstein's family announced that the 72-year-old conductor's funeral would be private, and there was no immediate word of a memorial service.
But Carnegie Hall said that its performance tonight of Hindemith's "Trauermusik" ("Music of Mourning") by the Moscow Soloists chamber orchestra would be dedicated to Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic said its Tuesday and Thursday concerts would be dedicated to him.
Performing in Strasbourg, the National Symphony Orchestra dedicated tonight's concert to Bernstein. Music Director Mstislav Rostropovich said in a statement, "I personally have lost my dearest friend, who helped me remain strong in the most difficult time of my life, when I was forced out of my country."
The organizers of an AIDS benefit set for Oct. 28 at Carnegie Hall said it would contain a special musical tribute to him. The conductor was a strong supporter of many causes, including the massive effort to find a cure for the killer disease, and had hoped to help conduct the concert.
Bernstein died Sunday night of a heart attack brought on by progressive lung failure, a legacy perhaps of 50 years of chain-smoking.
In life, Bernstein was surrounded by controversy -- critics complained that he always seemed to be doing too much. When he composed, they said he should be conducting. When he conducted, they said he was wasting valuable composing time.
But in death the critics were silenced by the praise from Bernstein's peers who said he did everything right.
Zubin Mehta, who succeeded Bernstein as musical director of the New York Philharmonic, said of him, "For the entire world he was the most unique musician of this century, there is no doubt about it."
Mehta said Bernstein's televised "Young People's Concerts" taught a generation of Americans about classical music and his hundreds of recordings were household items for music lovers.
Seiji Ozawa, the Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor who in his twenties was an assistant to Bernstein in New York, wiped tears from his eyes as he reflected on his mentor.
"I had no money," Ozawa recalled. "He gave me many food and drink. His wife, Felicia, gave my wife a dress. I think she still has it."
"He was too much for one body," Ozawa said. "He lived 10 or 20 times more than the usual person's one life."
Composer William Schuman, a longtime friend and collaborator, said, "No career in the history of music has embodied all the facets that his did.
"He brought to music not only the extraordinary energy which is so often commented upon, but a nobility and a tranquillity that cut to the heart of the composer he was, performing in a way so intimate it seemed that he himself had written every note."
Bernstein died less than a week after he announced he was retiring from public performances due to poor health.
His most famous composition was the score for "West Side Story," a retelling of "Romeo and Juliet" set on Manhattan's West Side. Here his classical sensibility meshed perfectly with Broadway, and a classic of simple musical power was born.
In a letter to Aaron Copland in 1938 after hearing the first performance of Copland's "El Salon Mexico," Bernstein wrote: "As I see it, music that is born complex is not inherently better or worse than music that is born simple."