Leonard Bernstein, the great American composer, conductor and humanitarian, renowned for West Side Story as well as classical pieces and his orchestral career, is under the spotlight in Bradley Cooper’s Maestro.
Less of a biopic, it is more a study of the unknowability of celebrity with the focus being on his complicated marriage to Felicia, mother of this three children, his homosexuality, and his conducting, all of which are emotionally intertwined.
A review says: “She seems to understand Lenny even better than he understands himself. “I know exactly who you are,” she says early on. “Let’s give it a whirl.” Though in his frenzied, explosive public performances — we sense an inner restlessness, a man yearning to break out of his skin and his persona to find himself.”
Throughout his life, Bernstein had affairs with both women and men. In a private letter written after their marriage, Felicia acknowledged her husband’s sexual orientation. She wrote him: “You are a homosexual and may never change — you don’t admit to the possibility of a double life, but if your peace of mind, your health, your whole nervous system depend on a certain sexual pattern what can you do?”
He did leave her for a period to live with a research music scholar but the following year Felicia was diagnosed with lung cancer and he moved back in to care for her until her death in 1978. He continued to have relationships with men until his death in 1990.
He was born 25 August 1918 1pm Lawrence, MA, and had his Virgo Sun conjunct his Midheaven from the 9th with an Aries Moon in his performing 5th house. His Sun opposed Uranus to give him an original experimental streak with a communicative Mercury in his 10th lending itself to his educator inclinations, as did a full 9th house. His Musical Venus Neptune and Saturn in Leo and his Sun would give him the ability to spread his views to a wide audience. Most significant of all was a confident Jupiter Pluto conjunction in his 8th. He would not always understand what drove him on but he would have an innate sense that his guardian angel was there for him.
His wife, actress, Felician Montealegre, played to high praise by Carey Mulligan, was born 6 February 1922 12.40 am San Jose, Cost Rica. She had a friendly, detached 3rd house Sun Venus in Aquarius with a 4th house Uranus, suiting her for an unconventional domestic life full of constant changes. She had an aggravated Taurus Moon opposition Mars in Scorpio square Mercury, so would be resentful even if she didn’t show it. Probably most significantly she had an 8th house Pluto anchoring her in a life where she would feel restricted by forces beyond her control. Her Saturn Jupiter, North Node in Libra in the 11th again emphasises her friendly side. A crucial piece of the jigsaw of her choices was her Sun/Moon midpoint, the close-relationship significator, which was conjunct her South Node opposition Saturn and square Pluto – hinting at a marriage which demanded a great deal in terms of stamina and endurance.
Her Moon fell in his 7th which would provide a supportive prop in his life, with her easy going Jupiter opposition his Moon; and her communicative Sun Venus in his 3rd.
But it would not be easy to keep on an even keel with simmering resentment under the surface. The wedding chart from 9 September 1951 had a composite Mars Pluto conjunction trine Jupiter and Jupiter opposition Neptune – a power couple infused with high optimism, a dose of unrealism and an underlying power struggle. The relationship chart echoes these themes with the composite Sun square an adventurous Jupiter opposition Uranus; an affectionate Moon Venus opposition a fiery Mars; and Mars in a tug-of-war Mars trine Pluto. Pluses and minuses. A prominent Jupiter can allow for imperfection and smooths round rough edges as well as adding a dose of it-will-get-better hopefulness.
I would imagine she railed less against him and more against the unfairness of life which had landed her in such a challenging relationship. Though if she had been honest she would never have been attracted to a relatively normal one.