David S. Bernstein,Composer


David S. Bernstein is a creative artist of unusual versatility in his choice of musical genres—from intimate chamber combinations to pieces for full band and orchestra, from music for films and video productions to theater, dance and opera. Among his distinctive works is an animated film chosen for a top spot in the Datsun Film Competition and screened at the Director’s Guild in Hollywood. He has scored music for commercials for Goodyear, American Greetings, Classic Video, Ohio Farmers’ Insurance and others. And in November 1999 his three one-act operas based on stories by Poe and Hawthorne were performed as a set at the University of Akron.

To all of these different musical genres, each posing its own special challenges, he has brought technical expertise, an eclectic style appropriate to the material, an unusual awareness of music’s historical sweep, continuity and cross-influences, and a flair for instant communication. Dr. Bernstein’s large and varied output has been heard in over 100 performances during the last decades in prestigious venues of this country, as well as Canada, South America and Europe. Distinguished musical organizations have programmed his work, including the Musart Series of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Eastman Percussion Ensemble, the Akron Symphony Orchestra under Louis Lane and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony under Edwin London. Eight publishers have issued scores of his, and he has received some 30 grants and foundation awards.

In addition to composition, David Bernstein has been active for many years in related activities such as conducting, narrating, teaching, lecturing, administrating, producing and directing. In 1972 he joined the faculty of the University of Akron, where since 1983 he has been professor of music and chairman of the theory and composition department. He has traveled widely and given lectures on his and others’ music in Poland, Canada, and half a dozen U.S. cities.

A native of Boston, he is a graduate of the Florida State University School of Music with bachelor’s and master’s degrees; he earned his doctorate in music in 1974, with distinction, from the Indiana University School of Music. Before coming to Akron, he served as a school music teacher in Passaic, New Jersey. He was also a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California.

This past June, after a faculty tenure of nearly three decades, Dr. Bernstein retired from his position at the University of Akron—though not, surely, from new ventures in composition. It is our great pleasure to award him the Cleveland Arts Prize as a gesture of appreciation for his notable contributions to the musical life of this area.

—Klaus G. Roy

Cleveland Arts Prize
P.O. Box 21126 • Cleveland, OH 44121 • 440-523-9889 • info@clevelandartsprize.org