{ subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/nls-music-notes.php' }

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: A (Part 1)

The following is a guest blog post from the new section head of the NLS Music Section, Juliette Appold.

Have you ever thought about listing classical and contemporary composers by their last names from A to Z? How about identifying American composers from A to Z? And how about filling the alphabet with names of American composers and musicians who are visually impaired or blind? Let’s focus on the latter two challenges.

I would like to start this blog by talking about American composer John Adams who was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on February 15, 1947. He has been shaping American music and music history since the late 1970s. Adams was influenced by composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich, and adapted minimalist composition techniques including the use of consonant harmonies, repetition of musical motifs, gradual transformations, and steady beat. Adams’ own musical style is mostly post-minimalist.

John Adams at the Library of Congress in 2010 reading from his autobiography "Hallelujah Junction." Photo by Abby Brack Lewis, 2010.

John Adams at the Library of Congress in 2010 reading from his autobiography “Hallelujah Junction.” Photo by Abby Brack Lewis, 2010.

Among his most famous compositions are the piano pieces Phrygian Gates (1978) and Hallelujah Junction (for two pianos, 1996). His operas include Nixon in China (1987), Doctor Atomic and The Death of Klinghoffer (1991). He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2003 and several Grammy Awards in 2005 for his work written in memory of 9/11: On the Transmigration of Souls, for orchestra, chorus and children’s choir. One of his more recent works is his dramatic symphony Scheherazade.2 for solo violin and orchestra (2015). John Adams was in residence at the Library of Congress in 2013.

To learn more about John Adams’ operas, check out:

Nixon in China (Opera)

The Death of Klinghoffer (Opera)

Doctor Atomic (Opera)

To learn more about John Adams’ life, check out his

Autobiography

Back to School: Method Books Edition (Part 2)

Last week, we detailed method books in the collection for wind instruments. This week, we are highlighting method books in our collection for string instruments and percussion, with some jazz method books thrown in for good measure! If there is anything here that could be useful to you or your student, please don’t hesitate to […]

Back to School: Method Books Edition (Part 1)

Although for most of us it still feels like the middle of summer outside, it is time for many folks to begin thinking about back-to-school, and the new books and supplies for the year. That, of course, includes books for music classes, band, and orchestra. In the past, we’ve discussed books for college students, and […]

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Ernesto!

August 6 is the birthday of Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, who lived from 1895 to 1963. While some composers’ names might stir a vague recollection of some concert I attended, Lecuona brings to mind an indelible childhood memory. It happened on a Monday afternoon when I was five or six years old. I was lying […]

There’s No Song Like an Old Song

I’m always reminding myself how fortunate I am to live in an area that offers not only great classical music, theater and dance performances, but many popular music performers make a stop, especially during the summer. Being a child of the sixties, rock and roll concerts usually meant performances in smoky nightclubs (missed out on […]

Thinking About Learning Braille Music? Part I

I always get excited when a patron requests a book on reading braille music because it means one more patron might be able to take advantage of our wonderful braille music collection. In my opinion, braille music readers have an edge over non-readers since they are able to explore and interpret the score themselves. In […]

From Loose Change to Reconciliation in Beethoven Quartets

Often the blogs we write have something to do with the calendar: a historic event, date of birth or death, etc. but this blog concerns a favorite topic of mine. Going through all the Robert Greenberg courses that the Music Section offers, I found one called “The String Quartets of Beethoven.” So I got the […]

It’s Summertime!

Now that the hockey season is officially over, there is only one major sport that is capturing the nation’s attention: baseball! I find that baseball is synonymous with summer, as it’s been played in the summer months for generations. I’m sure I’m not alone recalling warm summer evenings spent gathered around the radio listening to […]

Vacation Listening, and Much More

On May 13, I was baking cookies and listening to the Met Broadcast of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. One of the announcers explained that this production would take place not in the 18th century, but in 1911, the year it was composed (also the year that Mahler died, I thought to myself). And that’s when it […]

An American Classic: Irving Berlin

We’ve discussed show-tunes, Broadway, and the Great American Songbook on the blog before, but we have yet to talk about perhaps one of the most influential composers of American standards: Irving Berlin, who happens to celebrate his 129th birthday today. Along with penning a few Broadway scores, including the score for Annie Get Your Gun, […]