Songs for the Solstice

The winter solstice arrived at 5:47 pm Eastern Standard Time Greenwich Mean Time. As the East coast digs out from a major snowstorm,  let us bundle up by the fire and sing and dance to songs of winters past. From the Historic Sheet Music Collection, 1800-1922, come several indicators of the amorousness with which a […]

From Zero to Sixty in Four Bars

If you happened on the holiday classic In the good old Summertime recently, you might have noticed a scene where the great Buster Keaton trips and shatters what he thinks is a precious Stradivarius. Fortunately, it’s only a movie.  Even more fortunately, those lucky enough to nab tickets for tonight’s concert in the Coolidge Auditorium can celebrate the holidays with a life more wonderful than the movies. This evening, as it has since 1936, the Library of Congress remembers Antonio Stradivari with a memorial concert on the anniversary of his death, played on several of the Library’s precious Strads.

This year we welcome The Parker Quartet to our hallowed stage. During a break in rehearsals yesterday, I asked the members of the quartet how it felt to play a piece of history. Interestingly, two of them hit on similar metaphors without hearing the other’s comments:

Photo by Janette Beckman, courtesy The Parker Quartet

Photo by Janette Beckman, courtesy The Parker Quartet

Daniel Chong, playing the  “Betts”  violin: I see instruments as being like people, and playing an instrument is like meeting a new person. And these instruments are absolutely beautiful and gorgeous — they have such vitality and life in them. One thing I was struck by when I picked them up is how great a condition these instruments were in as well. The amount of ring in these instruments is incredible – I feel like I’m going deaf with the amount of ring! It’s been a great pleasure and a great opportunity, like a dream come true.

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You say it’s your birthday

When we’re not awarding honors to Knighted former Beatles, we in the Music Division are caretakers of one of the great performing arts archives in the world.  It’s an embarrassment of riches, and a lifetime could be spent studying just the online collections in the Performing Arts Encyclopedia (the website formerly known as I Hear America Singing). But then you’d miss the deep catalog available on the Library campus, from a 15th-century manuscript on vellum to back issues of Creem magazine;  exhibits in the lobby of the Performing Arts Reading Room; the popular concert series in the Coolidge Auditorium; and, last but far from least, the expertise and enthusiasm of our diverse staff.

Adagio aus dem Klavier Concert in Es dur

From a solo piano arrangement of Beethoven's Concerto in E-flat major

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Meet the Music Division!

I was going to launch In the Muse, the Performing Arts Blog, with an introduction to the rich collection of what is one of the premier Performing Arts archives in the world.  I was going to guide you, the reader, into the deepest recesses of the Performing Arts Encyclopedia, and highlight the world-renowned concert series  in […]