Hussey, Bernstein and the Chichester Psalms

Among the collections in the West Sussex Records Office – some of which date back over 1200 years – are a compelling series of documents recording Leonard Bernstein’s time in Chichester and the first performance of the Chichester Psalms in 1965. 

Bernstein psalms

This exhibition explores a fascinating chapter in West Sussex history using sources at the Records Office including the Cathedral Archives and the papers of Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester, who commissioned the original work in 1963 when he wrote to Leonard Bernstein asking if he would compose a piece of choral music for the Southern Cathedrals Festival in 1965.  Bernstein accepted. An extraordinary friendship arose from their correspondence, and in July 1965 the Chichester Psalms was performed in the Cathedral in the presence of the composer.

This exhibition is part of the Bernstein in Chichester festival marking the city’s close ties with the legendary composer in his centenary year.