Jazz in the Spring: My Name is Albert Ayler

Albert Ayler. Photograph by Michael Snow. Courtesy of mynameisalbertayler.com

Albert Ayler. Photograph by Michael Snow. Courtesy of mynameisalbertayler.com

During the month of April, the Pickford Theater will host Jazz in the Spring at the Nation’s Library, curated by Larry Appelbaum, Reference Specialist in the Music Division.  The series begins Monday April 5th with the Washington Premiere of My Name is Albert Ayler. The prophetic free jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler, who today is seen as one of the most important innovators in jazz, was obsessed with his radical music and by the thought that people one day would understand it. As he said in his own words, “If people don’t like it now, they will.” In 1962 he recorded his first album in Sweden. Eight years later he was found dead in New York’s East River, aged 34. Kasper Collin’s documentary follows the trail of Ayler from his native town of Cleveland by way of Sweden to New York, meeting family, friends and close colleagues. Albert Ayler and his brother Donald guide with voice and music in what JazzTimes called “One of the most starkly beautiful and moving documentaries ever made about a jazz musician.” Learn more about “My Name is Albert Ayler” External link

Women’s History Month: Women Composers in the Music Division

This post was excerpted from an article written by Robin Rausch, Senior Music Specialist, for the Library of Congress Information Bulletin. When Library of Congress music specialist Susan Clermont agreed to participate in a special event featuring works by women composers from the collections of the Library’s Music Division, she volunteered to explore the division’s […]

Ben Webster: Whispering in his Sweetheart’s Ear

Ben Webster, one of the great tenor saxophonists, was born March 27, 1909 in Kansas City, Missouri.  Along with bassist Jimmy Blanton, Webster helped form one of the most celebrated incarnations of the Duke Ellington orchestra. From 1940-1942,  the Blanton-Webster band recorded such Ellington classics as “Cotton Tail,” “Chelsea Bridge,” and, of course, “Take the ‘A’ […]

A little birthday music

His work has been interpreted by everyone from Barbara Streisand to Tim Burton. Lyricist-composer Stephen Sondheim, one of the great voices in American musical theater, was born on March 22,  1930. In 2000, The Library of Congress honored him with a Living Legend award, complete with an all-star 70th birthday concert in the Coolidge Auditorium. […]

Women’s History Month: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel

The following post is adapted from an article by Kevin Lavine, Senior Music Specialist and Reference Librarian. The complete article, part of the web presentation Felix Mendelssohn at the Library of Congress,  can be read here. Drawn together by their shared love of music and exceptional talents, Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) and his older sister Fanny […]

Bach’s Birthday

Baseball season is just around the corner; Johann Sebastian Bach (not to be confused with Canadian heavy-metal singer Sebastian Bach) has just celebrated a birthday; what better time than now to revisit  From Bach to Baseball Cards: Preserving the  Nation’s Heritage at the Library of Congress. This web presentation looks at some of the problems […]

Life Begins at 8:40

The following post is by Mark Eden Horowitz, Senior Music Specialist. On March 22nd, the Music Division of the Library of Congress will present a concert of the 1934 musical revue, Life Begins at 8:40. Though the show and score may not sound familiar, five years later four of  the original participants joined forces for […]

A bit o’ Blarney from the Music Division

The  Music Division’s bonnie collections offer a variety of ways to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day. Play an Irish bagpipe from the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection. Follow along to the reels described in Rinnce na h-Éireann : a simplified work on the performance of the dances of Ireland, from An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals. Develop […]

Great Mustaches of the Library of Congress: Music Division Edition

Our present-day fascination with the facial hair of yore may have behind it a number of reasons: a yearning for the sartorial elegance of by-gone days; an urge to lampoon the historical patriarchal hegemony;  the deep-seated instinct, like that found among birdwatchers and trainspotters, to catalogue the varieties of hirsute experience; a lot of spare […]

An’ a one, an’ a two …

Bandleader-accordionist Lawrence Welk  was the musical voice of a faraway time in America, before  punk rock, hip-hop, and Lady Gaga.  The son of German immigrants from the Ukraine, Welk was born in Strasburg, North Dakota on March 11, 1903.  The first big break in Welk’s long and storied career came in 1927, when Lawrence Welk […]