"Maestro," the high-profile film biography of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, hits theaters this week, starring Bradley Cooper. The Library holds a vast trove of Bernstein's papers, some 400,000 items that document every stage of his life and career. In a brief video, Mark Horowitz, a senior music specialist at the Library and the archivist for the Bernstein Collection, gives a tour of the material and its cultural significance.
Born in 19th-century Cuban dance halls, danzón eventually became the country’s official national dance. Influenced by African and European music and dance traditions, it continues to thrive outside the big island’s borders, in Mexico and beyond, in orchestra halls and dance salons, leaving an indelible mark on Latin American culture. It’s a genre all its own and a lovely bit of romance to remember during Hispanic Heritage Month here in the U.S. The Library has plenty of music, films and books to help you explore its rich history.
Pop hits, R&B grooves and Broadway anthems thumped through the Coolidge Auditorium Wednesday night as the We Write the Songs concert burst back into life for the first time in four years, featuring songwriters such as Jermaine Dupri, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Madison Love and Matthew West. The 90-minute showcase is an annual event (save for the recent COVID-caused gap) by the Library and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Foundation. It demonstrates to an audience heavy with members of Congress and Capitol Hill staffers, often in danceable fashion, why the rights of creative artists have to be protected.
Jimmy Buffett, whose iconic "Margaritaville" was inducted into the National Recording Registry this year, died yesterday at age 76. We interviewed him in March for the NRR. Here, we remember that conversation, his story of writing the song, his performance at the Library in 2008 and how his songs inspired the author long ago, even before Buffett was a star.
Tony Bennett, the Gershwin Prize-winning singer who knew his way around torch ballads, jazz standards and just about every nook and cranny of the Great American Songbook, has passed away at 96. He dazzled and charmed everyone at his Gershwin Prize concert in 2017 and we won't forget him, his grace and his impeccable touch with a song, anytime soon
Danny Elfman has composed or produced scores for more than 100 films, including blockbusters such as “Batman” and “Men in Black.” He’s composed themes for TV hits, as classic as “The Simpsons” and as recent as “Wednesday.” He was at the Library this week to present something more subtle: the world premiere of his latest classical work. “Suite for Chamber Orchestra,” commissioned by the LIbrary, debuted Thursday night at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in D.C. In this interview, he talks about his cinema and classical works, as well as original rock band, Oingo Boingo.
It is midafternoon on a recent weekday and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis is driving across the Southwest, taking the call on speakerphone that his 1985 album, “Black Codes (From the Underground),” has been inducted into the 2023 class of the National Recording Registry. With endless desert spreading about behind and before him, he took a few minutes to talk about the album and its pointed political statement.
The 2023 class of the National Recording Registry adds music from Mariah Carey, Queen Latifah, Daddy Yankee, the Eurythmics, Jimmy Buffett, Wynton Marsalis, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and several others. The 25 additions range from 1908 to 2012 and includes early blues and Mariachi music, along with radio broadcasts from the 1930s. A highlights video, with interviews with several of the artists, is included.