Classical music fans around the world celebrate the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's birth on Saturday. Orchestras around the country will celebrate Bernstein's centenary all season, with performances of music from "Candide," "West Side Story" and other Bernstein pieces.

Brett Mitchell, the Colorado Symphony's music director, feels as enthusiastic as anyone about Bernstein's music and legacy. He stopped by the CPR Performance Studio recently to chat about why Bernstein's music will endure. 

Leonard Bernstein in 1945.

Photo: public domain

"He gave us permission to be American and to love the music that we loved, and to not have to apologize for it. I think that's his great legacy," Mitchell said.

He also talked about Bernstein's accomplishments as a composer, conductor, educator and pianist. 

"He was so talented in all of these different areas," Mitchell said. "It's hard to believe he did all of the things he did in the 72 short years he was here."

The Colorado Symphony celebrates Bernstein in a Sept. 9 concert at Levitt Pavilion in Denver. For more reflections on Bernstein's legacy, check out the latest episode of CPR Classical's The Great Composers podcast, featuring Colorado Symphony Conductor Laureate Marin Alsop.