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Celebrating that “Parisienne Gaiety”

When I was a teenager, I began learning about classical music by listening to radio programs in the evening. Often the shows would begin with an overture or “light classic”, such as the Light Cavalry Overture (which our school band played), or the William Tell Overture (the “Lone Ranger” to me). There was also a very lively piece that one announcer called “Gate Parisienne.” I assumed that this “Gate” was a must-see for tourists, like the Eiffel Tower.

All of this came back to me when I read that October 5 is the day when Jacques Offenbach died. Born in Cologne on June 20, 1819, Offenbach studied cello and composition at the Paris Conservatoire. Then, after working as a cellist, he became conductor at the Théâtre-Français.

By the 1860s he was celebrated as the composer of operettas, such as Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld) and La Belle Hélène. Intended as a spoof of grand opera, Offenbach’s operettas influenced other creators, such as Johann Strauss, and Gilbert and Sullivan. This success made it possible for him to open his own theater, Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, which he directed for ten years.

Late in life, Offenbach began writing a grand opera, Les Contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) and, although not quite finished when he died, it was performed in 1881 at the Opéra-comique.

“Helen of Troy in Opera”, DBM00145, is one of several recordings that can provide more information about Offenbach. Michael Barclay has talks on The Tales of Hoffmann, DBM00859; Merry Widow and Operetta, DBM00765; and La Grande-duchesse de Gérolstein, DBM01366. There is also “Orpheus in Opera” at DBM00127, which discusses “settings of the Orpheus myth … over the past 350 years.” And Ann Thomson explores Orpheus in the Underworld, DBM01260; and Tales of Hoffmann, DBM01427.

A braille libretto for Tales of Hoffman is at BRM35004. Celebrated Soprano Arias, compiled by Kurt Adler, BRM22085, includes Offenbach’s aria “Elle a fui”. The baritone recitative and aria from this opera, “Scintille, Diamant” may be found at BRM26467.

If you want to learn the “Can-Can” from Orpheus in the Underworld, there is a version for recorder at BRM06428, and one for organ in BRM20668.

And we have his famous Barcarolle arranged for piano, BRM29621 and LPM00397; for cello and piano, BRM00892; clarinet and piano, BRM28846; and for soprano and mezzo-soprano with piano, BRM26864.

To borrow any of these, or to learn about other Offenbach works that we have, please contact the Music Section!

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 […]

The Soul of the Saxophone

In the space of just two weeks, musicians and music-lovers remember the life and death of two of the most famous saxophonists known to the world: Eric Dolphy, who passed away on June 29th, 1964 and Albert Ayler, who was born on July 13th, 1936. Each of them left an indelible mark on the world, […]

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, […]

What A Great Service!

I heard these words a lot this past weekend. That’s because the NLS Music Section made its way to the NAfME (National Association for Music Education) conference in Grapevine, TX. While there, I was able to promote our service to music teachers from all over the country—and some future music teachers too! The refrain I kept […]

NLS Music Section at the 2016 Library of Congress National Book Festival

NLS music section was at the 16th Library of Congress National Book Festival at the Washington Convention Center on Saturday, September 24, 2016, to greet visitors and explain about our services. This event provided a wonderful opportunity for outreach, and we were able to talk to a wide variety of people who were not aware […]

Music Catalogs for 2016: New and Improved!

As we are exiting the period that can still be referred to as “the new year” and are approaching the season of renewal known as spring, we’d like to highlight some of our recent publications, namely our new catalogs. Although we’ve had blog posts about magazines produced by the Music Section (Musical Mainstream and Contemporary […]