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My Job: Mark Horowitz, from Broadway to the Beltway

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Mark Horowitz (l) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (r) looking over Jonathan Larson’s collection at the Library.

Mark Horowitz in the Music Division works with some of the biggest names in musical theater.

Describe your work at the Library.

I’m a senior specialist in the Music Division’s acquisitions and processing section, where my specialty is American musical theater. I acquire collections for the Library — these have included the papers of Howard Ashman, Adam Guettel, Marvin Hamlisch, Jonathan Larson, Hal Prince, Jeanine Tesori and a promised bequest from Stephen Sondheim.

I process special collections — sorting, organizing, identifying, foldering, labeling and writing finding aids. I provide reference. And I get to do special projects, such as co-producing concerts and exhibits and conducting interviews for the Library’s website — including interviews with Sondheim, Burt Bacharach and Randy Newman.

Mark Horowitz. Photo: Shawn Miller.

What are some of your standout projects?

Producing a 70th birthday celebration concert for Sondheim. Our cast included Nathan Lane, Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie and Brian Stokes Mitchell. It included a newly orchestrated concert version of his “The Frogs,” which was then recorded for the first time and led to an expanded version of the show premiering on Broadway. That concert included a segment of Sondheim’s “songs he wish he’d written,” the complete list of which was then published in the New York Times and led to a series of Barbara Cook “Mostly Sondheim” concerts and recordings.

In 2018, I received the Kluge fellowship reserved for a Library staff member. My project allowed me for one year to seek out, read, review, select and transcribe correspondence from and to the lyricist, librettist and producer Oscar Hammerstein II. Among the shows Hammerstein wrote were “Show Boat,” “Oklahoma!,” “Carousel,” “South Pacific” and “The King and I.” His correspondence represents a who’s who of show business, but he was also deeply involved in social issues, including working with the NAACP. I ended up transcribing over 4,500 letters. The plan is that these transcripts, accompanied by scans of at least some of the originals, will become a Library website. I believe these letters will be a revelation to many and prove a vast source for research.

What have been your most memorable experiences at the Library?

Making Stephen Sondheim cry when I showed him Gershwin’s manuscript for “Porgy and Bess.” Doing a show-and-tell for Angela Lansbury, during which she sang “Beauty and the Beast” for me, first as Ashman and Alan Menken had performed it for her (up-tempo), then the way she insisted on singing it (as a ballad).

What are your favorite collection items?

There are hundreds, but the first that comes to mind: Oscar Hammerstein’s lyric sketches for “My Favorite Things” (“Riding down hill on my big brother’s bike/These are a few of the things that I like”) and “Do-Re-Mi,” where for several pages he gets stuck on the line “Sew — a thing you do with wheat.” Larson’s lyric sketches for “Seasons of Love,” where you see him do the math that calculates there are 525,600 minutes in a year. A letter from George Bernard Shaw to a 19-year-old Jascha Heifetz, cautioning him to play something badly every night instead of saying his prayers so as not to provoke a jealous god.

 

Lin-Manuel Miranda tweets an acknowledgement to Horowitz on the release of “tick, tick … BOOM!”

Comments (7)

  1. Dear Horowitz, I am using one of the American Music Theatres as my case study of developing a drama stage. I want to use the European theatrical stage to fashion out an African theatre. This I may use to create a unique style that will be peculiar with me in order to eliminate copyright infringements.I want to study some of your collected works like the “The Frog”. It gives me pleasure to read the Athens’ four great playwrights: Aeschylus,Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. And Horowitz, you have selected The Frog which is the greatest Aristophanes(448-385 BC. The visitation of Hades to demand the return of Euripides by Dionysus, who once believe that no major tragic poets remain in Greece. Horowitz, I got thousands comments on your collection but no good Avenue to make these….

  2. The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation hereby nominates Mark Horowitz for Library Sainthood.

  3. I want to perform and appear on stage in a play

  4. Very interesting stuff! Would love to know more about Mr. Horowitz’s journey to this position. My teen daughter is into musical theatre and not aware of these types of careers.

  5. I have a collection of letters from Stephen Sondheim to my brother, they had a relationship that lasted from 1973 to 1977 , may be interested in selling them as a lot. Please get back to me if you’re interested.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for writing. I’ll forward this note to the Music Division!

  6. Dear Mr. Horowitz,
    I do not know how long you have held your position, but, according to a letter by Lyle Lofgren dated 2000, someone in your position was sent a tape of Hudie Ledbetter, a.k.a Lead Belly, of a “private party in Minneapolis, MN done on 21 November 1948. I have been on a mission for the past 8 years to correct the history of that event. In a Lead Belly biography written by Kip Lornell and Charles Wolfe, that event was cast as being in the wrong location, wrong time of day and with the wrong recordist. My source is the actual recordist, Kenneth Britzius, Jr., my still living friend, best man at my wedding.
    Please, let me know if you are familiar with any of the details?

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