In September 1960, Leonard Bernstein brought the New York Philharmonic to Berlin to play two concerts at the Berlin Festival, where they would also tape a program to be aired shortly thereafter on American television. Sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, the trip, which occurred at the height of the Cold War, was of considerable political significance. Berlin was one of the most contested places on earth, and the western section of the city, a democratic island in a communist sea, had been a focal point of Cold War tensions since the late 1940s. Thus, the orchestra’s journey to Berlin must be seen as part of the fabric of Cold-War history. The article looks closely at the Philharmonic’s performance before an audience of German students, in which the orchestra taped Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with Bernstein as conductor and soloist, a lecture-concert that would be shown a few weeks later on U.S. television. This event provided a brilliant showcase for Bernstein’s many talents, allowing him to play, conduct, teach, and even to speak about politics and God. Among the matters Bernstein discussed with the young German audience was the idea that musicians of particular nationalities were uniquely suited to play music from the land of their birth – an idea Bernstein rejected, calling it outmoded. The American maestro also explored what he described as the universal character of German music, which he claimed was impossible to quarantine. According to Bernstein, German music transcended ethnic and national categories, though he argued that the idea of musical development lent German music its unique quality. Next, Bernstein the educator became Bernstein the political activist. He explained why his musicians had crossed the ocean to perform the music of Beethoven before a German audience in Berlin, noting, “We have come to take one more step through this kind of cultural exchange along the paths of international understanding that lead to peace.” As will be seen, the Philharmonic’s journey points to the intersection between art and politics during a perilous era.