A Chronology


Candide, or Optimism, a short novel by François Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778), is published.


August 25
Leonard Bernstein is born in Lawrence, Massachusetts.


Bernstein becomes assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic.


Lillian Hellman suggests to Bernstein the idea of working together on a musical version of Voltaire's Candide after an earlier idea for a collaboration (an opera based on the life of Eva Peron) is abandoned.


January 7
In a letter from Bernstein in Switzerland to his wife, Felicia, he writes:

    I have decided to go along with Lillian on Candide - imagine, after having written her a letter saying no and tearing it up.

February - May
Work on Candide is delayed while Bernstein writes the score for Elia Kazan's film On the Waterfront and the completion of Serenade, a piece for violin and orchestra written at the request of Isaac Stern.

Bernstein rents a house on Martha's Vineyard and work on Candide begins in earnest.  In a letter to a friend he writes:

    My life is all Lillian Hellman and Candide.
He and Felicia write the lyrics to "I Am Easily Assimilated", before the decision is made to bring in John Latouche as lyricist.  Later in the summer, several songs are auditioned for representatives from Sol Hurok's agency for his consideration as the producer of the Broadway production.  Hurok remains uninterested.

September 12
Bernstein flies to Venice to conduct the premiere of his Serenade with Isaac Stern.

Work on Candide resumes, with Bernstein, Hellman, and Latouche meeting three to four times a week in New York.  Bernstein teaches a musical theater seminar at Brandeis University based on Candide.

November 14
CBS asks Bernstein to write an essay on Beethoven for a live broadcast of their series Omnibus.  So began Bernstein's long association with television. 

With only the first act of Candide complete, Hellman and Bernstein decide to drop lyricist John Latouche and write the lyrics themselves.  Soon afterward, they begin consideration of other possible lyricists as replacement, including E.Y. Harburg, Dorothy Parker and James Agee.


Ethel Linder Reiner agrees to produce Candide on Broadway.  Work on the show is at a stand-still.

A draft score of "Music to Candide" is fair-copied for the Library of Congress.

January - April
Bernstein conducts opera productions during a four-month tour of Italy.

April 19
Bernstein's one-act opera, Trouble in Tahiti (written in 1952), has its Broadway premiere.

With only Dorothy Parker's lyrics for one song (the "Lady Frilly" section of the Venice Gavotte) finished, Hellman and Bernstein agree to put Candide on hold until they can find a new lyricist.  In the meantime, Arthur Laurents approaches Bernstein with an idea for a musical called East Side Story.  Bernstein immediately begins composing the music, and tentative lyrics, as well.

Tyrone Guthrie agrees to direct Candide.  Others who were considered included Gene Kelly and French film director, Rene Clair.

August 11
Bernstein conducts the premiere of his Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront at Tanglewood.

Stephen Sondheim is asked to write lyrics for the Laurents / Bernstein show (now called West Side Story).

The Lark, Hellman's adaptation of Jean Anouilh's L'Alouette, opens on Broadway with incidental music composed by Bernstein.

Poet Richard Wilbur, fresh from his acclaimed translation of Molière's Le Misanthrope, becomes the new lyricist for Candide.  All of Latouche's contributions are discarded with the exception of "You Were Dead, You Know" and "My Love", both of which will include revisions by Wilbur.


Most of Bernstein and Sondheim's work on West Side Story has been completed, but Candide languishes.

Bernstein, Hellman, Wilbur, and Guthrie all convene on Martha's Vineyard (at the same house rented during the summer of 1954) to complete work on Candide.

July 16
Ethel Linder Reiner [producer] writes in a letter to Richard Wilbur:

    . . . I enclose a check for $500.00 . . . As soon as this entire matter is cleared up with Latouche we will send out the [press] release.  Lillian tells me it meets with your approval.

August 7
John Latouche dies of a heart attack at the age of 39.

October 29
Tryouts for Candide begin at the Colonial Theatre in Boston where it runs for three weeks before moving to New Haven, CT for a week-long engagement.

December 1
Candide opens on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre.

December 9
The original cast album of Candide is recorded.


January 26
The Overture to Candide is given its first concert performance with Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic.

February 2
The Broadway production of Candide closes after 73 performances.  Bernstein writes in his diary:

    Candide is on and gone; the Philharmonic has been conducted; back to Romeo.  From here, nothing shall disturb the project. . .

August 19
Tryouts for West Side Story begins in Washington DC.

September 27
The Broadway production of West Side Story opens at the Winter Garden Theatre.

November 19
Leonard Bernstein is named the Music Director of the New York Philharmonic.


January 18
Bernstein conducts the first of the Young People's Concerts, televised on the CBS network.

Michael Stewart's concert version adaptation of Candide begins a seven-week tour starring Mary Costa and Robert Rounseville.

Lillian Hellman and Michael Stewart begin working on revisions for the London production of Candide.  Hellman writes in a letter to Bernstein:

    It's only by the greatest tensing of fists that I can bear any more work on Candide. . . . The trouble with Candide is that it didn't fail.


April 30
The revised version of Candide opens at the Saville Theatre, London and includes the newly-written song, "We Are Women".  It closes after 60 performances.


September 28
Bernstein records the Overture to Candide with the New York Philharmonic.


July 12
A production of Candide directed by Gordon Davidson opens in Los Angeles at the University of California.

August 16
Lillian Hellman writes in a letter to Bernstein:

    . . . I believe you are right in thinking that the proper form is a concert version.  I have thought so for a long time.  But it must be a good version because the cult-memories of the show — some part of which are associated with a most marred book — will disappear if enough of that book is not there.  If the Lord was in his Heaven, if the theatre was different, if you and I had different histories, I would like to do that version with the agreement that only I would write it, nobody would alter it, and there would be no collaboration except for those concerned to make the usual bright, or not bright, comments and to have them accepted or rejected as I would on any other work in the theatre.  But I do not believe this condition can ever come about. . .


Sheldon Patinkin, an original member of the Second City troupe, adapts and directs Michael Stewart's concert version of Candide for an outdoor performance in Chicago's Grant Park.  It is reprised the following summer.


November 10
Sheldon Patinkin's adaptation of the concert version of Candide is presented at Philharmonic Hall [later renamed Avery Fisher Hall] in New York City to celebrate Leonard Bernstein's 50th birthday.


July 6
A fully-staged production of Candide directed by Sheldon Patinkin opens at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco.  It includes the newly-written song "Words, Words, Words [Martin's Laughing Song]".  On August 24, the production opens in Los Angeles, followed by a run later that fall in Washington DC, with hopes of reviving the show on Broadway.  Between the SF and LA productions, Lillian Hellman's book credit is removed from the program.

September 8
The world premiere of Bernstein's Mass is the inaugural concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC.

November 13
Patinkin's touring production closes at the Kennedy Center and the planned Broadway revival is abandoned.


February 3
Richard Wilbur writes in a letter to Bernstein:

    . . . Of course I should be happy to forget all misunderstandings or differences, have our chaps draw up a fresh agreement, and see if we cannot truly collaborate in salvaging Candide: I agree with you that there is so much life in the show, so much that is good and finished, that it would be a shame to abandon it.

    May I make a counter-suggestion about the book?  It seems to me that we ought to entrust any work on the book to someone who can take, and induce in us, a fresh view of the whole show, and who will have as much imagination as you or I. . .


March 9
Harold Prince writes in a letter to Bernstein:

    . . . I am intrigued by the possibility of rethinking Candide.  In modest terms.  To this end I have talked with Hugh Wheeler, who is in the Caribbean with Lillian's original script, the published version, and Voltaire. . .

December 11
A new version of Candide produced by the Chelsea Theatre, directed by Harold Prince with a completely new book by Hugh Wheeler, opens at the Brooklyn Academy of Music where it runs for 48 performances before transfering to Broadway.


March 10
The Chelsea Theatre production of Candide opens on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre.  Shortly afterward, the complete production is recorded by Thomas Z. Shepard.


January 4
The Broadway revival of Candide closes after 740 performances.


April 9
The World Premiere concert of John Mauceri's arrangement of the Candide Suite is performed in Tel Aviv, Israel.


Bernstein conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing the Overture to Candide at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, which is recorded for subsequent release.

October 13
The New York City Opera's production of Candide, directed by Harold Prince, opens at the New York State Theater where it is given 34 performances in repertory over the next three seasons.

November 18
Lillian Hellman writes in a letter to Bernstein:

    . . . You are too unfeeling to know that I could not have wanted a hack like Hugh Wheeler to fool around with my work, and I have never been very fond of the work of Hal Prince. . .


June 30
Lillian Hellman dies.


The New York City Opera's production of Candide is recorded at Manhattan Center, NYC.


April 29 - May 11
During the Bernstein Festival at the Barbican Center, London, John Mauceri conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in the UK premiere of his arrangement of the Candide Suite.

November 12
A performance of the New York City Opera's production of Candide is broadcast live on PBS.


April 16 and 20
The Scottish Opera records their upcoming production of Candide in Glasgow.

May 19
The Scottish Opera production of Candide, directed by Jonathan Miller and John Wells, opens at the Theatre Royale in Glasgow.  The performance is broadcast on BBC television.

December 1
The Scottish Opera production moves to The Old Vic in London's West End for a limited engagement of 34 performances.


December 12 and 13
Leonard Bernstein conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in two concert performances of Candide at the Barbican Centre in London.  The cast and orchestra record this "final revised version" at the Abbey Road Studios on December 15-18.


October 14
Leonard Bernstein dies.


Bernstein's recording of Candide is released to great acclaim, receiving the Grammy Award for Classical Album of the Year.


May 21
The American premiere of the "final revised version" is presented by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

November 26
Harold Prince directs the Lyric Opera of Chicago in his "opera house version" of Candide.


November 8
Gordon Davidson directs the West Coast premiere of the "final revised version" at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.


April 29
Harold Prince adapts his "opera house version" to the Great White Way as a Broadway revival of Candide opens at the Gershwin Theatre.  The production is recorded on May 19-20 and closes on July 27 after 103 performances.


December 18 and 19
The London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kent Nagano, performs two concerts of Bernstein's "final revised version" of Candide at the Barbican in London. 


February 17
Eiji Oue conducts the Minnesota Orchestra in the world premiere of the Suite from Candide, arranged by Charlie Harmon.

April 13
The Royal National Theatre production of a new version of Candide adapted by John Caird opens at the Laurence Olivier Theatre, London.  A cast recording is made in October.  The production closes on January 25, 2000.


July 18 - 20
The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Patrick Summers, performs three semi-staged concerts of Bernstein's "final revised version" of Candide at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. 


May 28 - July 28
The Opera Company tours the United Kingdom performing a touring production of the Royal National Theatre version of Candide.

November 12
A concert performance of Candide at the Prince Regent Theatre in Munich, Germany, is filmed for broadcast on Bavarian Television three days later.


May 5 - 8
The New York Philharmonic, conducted by Marin Alsop, performs a concert production of Candide adapted and directed by Lonny Price.  The performance of May 7 is broadcast live on New York public radio and recorded for later transmission on National Public Radio's World of Opera. It is also videotaped for PBS's Great Perfomances and first shown in January 2005.


February 11 - 12
A concert production of Candide is performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in London.  It is recorded for later broadcast on BBC radio.


Compiled by Michael H. Hutchins