Undergraduate finds room to explore business, computer science, and an American music icon – University of Rochester

December 16, 2021

Jacob Rose ’24, who plans to major in business with an emphasis on computer science, is using funding from the Meliora Scholars program to pursue research on how Leonard Bernstein helped American audiences gain a new appreciation for modern composers during the turbulent 1960s. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Rochester’s flexible curriculum gives Jacob Rose a chance to research Leonard Bernstein.

Jacob Rose ’24 will spend winter break at the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress, poring over more than 3,800 letters, notes, musical scores, and anything else relating to America’s musical icon, Leonard Bernstein.

“I’ve always admired him as a person,” says Rose, who is researching how Bernstein helped American audiences gain a new appreciation for modern composers during the turbulent 1960s.

Rose is planning to major in business with an emphasis on computer science at the University of Rochester. However, thanks to Rochester’s open curriculum, Rose also has the flexibility to explore his passion for music, which began when he started piano lessons at age 5.

Rose intends to minor in music and in audio and music engineering. He’s taken piano lessons at the University’s renowned Eastman School of Music. He’s even provided keyboard accompaniment for several student vocal groups and musical ensembles, most recently playing in the pit orchestra for a recent Off Broadway On Campus showcase.

And Rose received a Meliora Scholars award of $3,000 to support his research project on Bernstein, which will likely result in a research paper, presentation, or both.

A closer look at the composer, conductor, humanitarian

Leonard Bernstein in 1955 (Library of Congress)

According to music critic Donal Henahan, Bernstein was “one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history.” The celebrated composer of West Side Story was the first American-born conductor to lead a major American symphony orchestra and the first conductor to share and explore music on television with a mass audience, including a popular series of Young People’s Concerts. He was also a Vietnam War protestor, and a staunch advocate of civil rights, nuclear disarmament, and HIV/AIDS research and awareness.

Rose says he first became familiar with Bernstein by performing and listening to his music from West Side Story. “But I’ve also been listening to a lot of the pieces he conducted,” he says.

Rose, who is from Baltimore, MD, also follows Marin Alsop, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conductor who studied under Bernstein. Her Instagram posts and concert notes furthered his interest in Bernstein, as did her foreword in Leonard Bernstein Young People’s Concerts by Alicia Kopfstein-Penk.

Leonard Bernstein and Rochester

Rochester-based journalist Michael Nighan reports that: In 1945, Leonard Bernstein credited Eastman School of Music faculty member Margaret Grant for helping to start his career by introducing him to Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and an important influence …….


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