You call it Madness, I call it Music

I'm crying just for you. by  James V. Monaco. New York, Broadway Music Corp., 1913.

I'm crying just for you. by James V. Monaco. New York, Broadway Music Corp., 1913.

The brooding artist type: you know one, you’ve been one, you’ve seen one in the coffeshop thinking deep thoughts and crying as they type furiously into their laptop. But does depression help or hinder creative thought? Last year the Coolidge Auditorium hosted a symposium on “Depression and Creativity” as part of the “Music and the Brain” lecture series. The symposium was part of the Library’s bicentennial celebration of composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), who died after a severe depression following the death of his sister, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, also a gifted composer. Kay Redfield Jamison,  co-director of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and author of “Touched with fire” and other volumes addressing the at times volatile state of the creative mind, led the discussion. Watch “Depression and Creativity“, part of the Music and the Brain playlist on the Library of Congress’s YouTube channel. And remember, you can subscribe to Music and the Brain podcasts on iTunes.

If you’re in Washington tonight, February 26th, come hear the latest in the series Music and the Brain II with Why Do Listeners Enjoy Music That Makes Them Weep?” Prof. David Huron, Head of the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory, Ohio State University, is our guest speaker.  The lecture begins at 6:15 in room LJ-119, on the first floor of the Jefferson Building.

To our readers of a creative bent: do you feel that depression is an obstacle to creativity, or is there method in your madness?

African-American History Month: James Reese Europe

“He was our benefactor and inspiration. Even more, he was the Martin Luther King of Music.” Pianist Eubie Blake said this of  composer/bandleader James Reese Europe,  who was born in Mobile, Alabama on February 22, 1881. Europe’s accomplishments run from the grand “Concert of Negro Music” that he conducted for a 125-man orchestra at Carnegie Hall in […]

Concerto Soave: Rome on the Potomac

Next Thursday, February 25, 8:00, the Coolidge Auditorium will ring with the sounds of seventeenth-century Italy as the Music Division hosts Concerto Soave. This intimate ensemble from southern France was founded by Jean-Marc Ayme and Grammy-winning soprano Maria Cristina Kiehr. Their tapestry of instrumental timbres is woven from harp, cello, harpsichord, and portative organ for […]

Happy Mardi Gras!

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before the Christian season of Lent begins.  In New Orleans, this is the *last* day of carnival: the party started on Twelfth Night, January 6th. With the New Orlean’s Saints‘ victory in Super Bowl XLIV, this Mardi Gras season has given the  City of New Orleans something […]

Happy Birthday Mister President, Happy Birthday to You

We all can’t be Marilyn Monroe cooing a personal birthday greeting to the Commander-in-Chief. But this President’s Day weekend gives all Americans a chance to remember our iconic leaders and take advantage of holiday sales — and gives the Mid-Atlantic States more time to dig out from the record-breaking snowfall that brought the region to […]

Boy Scouts of America

This week the Boy Scouts of America turn one hundred years young – and they still look like kids! Earn your merit badge in Music with this piece from The March King: John Philip Sousa on the Performing Arts Encyclopedia. More scout-related material can be found in An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides […]