Just a few of the books by and about this year’s departed music stars in our collections.
With 2016 drawing to a close, anxious music fans may worry that a year that has taken away so many legends may yet give us one more reason to mourn. Starting with the death of Natalie Cole on New Year’s Day, dozens of artists who have provided the soundtracks of our lives died this year.
The landmark bookends of this difficult calendar may have been the death of David Bowie on January 10 and the death of Debbie Reynolds on December 28, just one day after the unexpected death of her daughter Carrie Fisher. Bowie and Reynolds signify wildly different generations of popular music, but from Reynolds’ cheerful “Good Morning” in Singin’ in the Rain to Bowie’s chameleonic shifts of identity, it’s hard to find someone who was not touched by at least one of their muses.
Still, theirs were but a few of the voices silenced this year. From composer Pierre Boulez (who died on January 6 at the age of 90) to Beatles record producer George Martin (March 8, 90) to King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand (October 13, 70; we wrote about the royal musician’s passing here); from Blue Note Records engineer Rudy Van Gelder (August 25, 91) to iconic Chess label co-founder Phil Chess (October 18, 91), luminaries from all aspects of the music world succumbed; some, like Prince (April 21, 57; we noted his passing here) and George Michael (December 25, 53) far before their time. Music fans who came of age in the ‘80s seemed hit especially hard; Alan Thicke (December 13, 69) may be best known as an actor, but he also found success in a much maligned genre as the voice and pen behind the theme to the television sit-com Diff’rent Strokes.
Even Muhammad Ali (June 3, 74) made records, from the 1963 album I Am the Greatest to a 1977 children’s album in which he fights tooth decay.
Feel free to share your memories of the music that this tumultuous year has silenced.
This post has been modified from an article originally written by Nicholas A. Brown. Tickets for winter and spring Concerts from the Library of Congress events, presented by the Music Division, will be released to the public on Jan. 4 at 10 a.m. via Eventbrite. All concerts, films and lectures are free but require advance […]
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is one of the most popular Christmas carols we hear during the holidays, and one with an especially interesting history involving four creative minds over the span of two centuries. While the history is well documented, source materials in the Library of Congress’s collections provide engaging illustrations detailing the evolution […]
A guest blog post by retired cataloger Sharon McKinley. While researching Geraldine Farrar a few years ago, I noticed that she is buried at Kensico Cemetery, located in Valhalla, New York. Coincidentally, my grandparents are there as well. Beyond the fact that having a cemetery in a place called Valhalla is a grand idea, Kensico […]
As a fan of the musical Hamilton, I’ve been listening to The Hamilton Mixtape non-stop since its release last Friday. The new album offers covers of numbers from the original cast recording, new tracks inspired by the musical, numbers cut from the show and even a couple of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s demo tracks. However, it occurs […]
In the Muse is happy to cross post the following piece by Betty Lupinacci, Processing Section Head in the Law Library. Her blog post was originally published on the Law Library’s blog, In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress. As much as I love Christmas carols, I’m usually tired of them by mid-December as […]
The following is a guest blog by Andrew N. White III, a participant in the Library’s DC Jazz Project, a component of the 2016-2017 Library of Congress Jazz Scholars program. This program is made possible by the Reva and David Logan Foundation. White delivered a lecture-recital at the Library on November 3, 2016 (a video […]
The following is a guest post by Jennifer Martyn, a violinist and a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Music. Her research focuses on the life and career of Amanda Maier. She is particularly interested in Maier’s career as a violinist and how her performances and repertoire can inform us about the […]
With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up this week, most peoples’ thoughts turn to food and family recipes. It seems like the perfect time to share recipes that rest in the Music Division’s collection. One of the more memorable comes from a 19th-century virtuoso: Paganini’s ravioli! The Music Division is home to a collection of Paganini […]
In a recent interview with Smokey Robinson, recipient of this year‘s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the songwriter told the Music Division about the birth of Motown, which he co-founded with Berry Gordy, Jr. Asked about the crossover appeal of the label, Robinson passed on something that Gordy had said to him: “I’m going to […]