Coming Soon: Big Box Set of Recordings by Leonard Bernstein

Yes, Christmas is coming. The record labels are starting to announce their big box sets for this year. As the classical music industry seeks to exploit their back catalog, they come up with plenty of ways to do so and, in many cases, to get fans to buy new editions of music they already own.

One such box is the forthcoming Leonard Bernstein Remastered box set from Sony. With 100 CDs, in the now familiar Sony big box format, with original album sleeves and a large hardcover book, this set features works composed by and conducted by the great American musician. (, Amazon UK)


I’m a big fan of Lenny’s music, and I already have several big box sets. There’s the 80 CD Sony box set from 2014, entitled Concertos & Orchestral Works. (, Amazon UK) This contains, as it says, concertos and orchestral works (but not symphonies), and the Bernstein Symphony Edition contains the latter.. (, Amazon UK)

There are also two sets on DG, the Bernstein Collection, volume one (, Amazon UK) and volume two (, Amazon UK).

A quick glance at the forthcoming set shows that it contains a mixture of recordings from the two previous Sony box sets. However, if each CD contains only the equivalent of one LP, then this set will have maybe half of his recordings.

If you’re a die-hard Lenny fan, you may want this set for the remasterings. If you don’t have the Sony box sets, it’s a must have, but it’s possible that you may have enough Lenny already in other sets. So, as always, with this back-catalogue exploitation, it depends on how interested you are in having everything.

In any case, it’s good to see that Sony is giving more attention to Leonard Bernstein. The current price for this set is pretty steep, but it should come down by the time of release in November. Note that at the time of this writing there’s no price on, but it shows at about £175 on Amazon UK. If past experience is any judge, the price will drop, and pre-ordering it means you’ll get a nice price even if it drops for just one day. (That’s how I generally buy these box sets; I order months in advance, and sometimes there’s a very big price drop, which Amazon honors.)

An aside: for some reason, the Sony Symphony Edition is selling for ludicrous prices: more than £800 and over $1,400. Anyone want to buy mine?

9 thoughts on “Coming Soon: Big Box Set of Recordings by Leonard Bernstein

  1. Of course. It’s quite confusing. I’ve updated the article.

    So if there are about 160 Sony CDs, then the new set isn’t complete. (To be fair, it doesn’t claim to be.)

    And, yes, there are two DG boxes, the ones I mention. I have all of these, but they’re not immediately accessible to check.

  2. One glaring omission from the Sony boxes is the recording of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. It’s one of the recordings missing from my Bernstein collection. I hope to add it someday.

    • And that’s not listed as being in the new Sony set. Could there be some licensing issue that is preventing its re-release?

  3. I’m also a big Bernstein fan and have been for some time trying to get all his recordings. Easier than some other conductors (e.g. Colin Davis) but harder than others (e.g. Solti). I have both previous Sony boxes (Symphony and Concertos) and the complete recordings for DG and sister labels. I also managed to get his early recordings for Victor (not hard to find on Amazon, 2nd hand) and his few albums for EMI. So, about Sony, for those of us who have both big boxes, what’s missing. To begin with, there are a few symphonies that he recorded twice for Columbia (Beethoven 7, Berlioz Fantastique, Mahler 2, Prokofiev 5, Shostakovich 5…) and only one version was included in the first box. Then there is a large group of recordings I truly expected would be included in a 3rd big box: Vocal works. For example, as Greg mentioned before, St. Mathew Passion, but also Messiah, Bach’s Magnificat, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Missa Solemnis, Berlioz’s and Verdi’s Requiem, Bernstein’s, Brahms’ or Mahler’s songs, plus several other sacred or stage works.
    The release of this Remastered Edition is always welcome, and I am quite fond of original jackets. But it is confusing, especially for us who bought the two previous boxes. I think it would have been so much better for us to simply release a 3rd box with every Sony recording not included in the other two.
    In case anyone is interested, Bernstein’s full discography can be consulted here:

    • How much of this said was not in the previous small Leonard Bernstein composer box? It’s not immediately accessible, but I think it has 15 CDs or so. Also, it looks like there is duplication between this and the new remastered box set. Sigh.

      • I don’t know the previous small box but yes, there are several redundancies between the already published large Sony boxes and both the “Remastered Edition” and “Bernstein: The Composer”. But, what is even worse, even with the four big boxes there would still be several recordings missing. Hard to explain. As you say, sigh.

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