Above the desk where I sign in to work hangs a pin-up calendar whose pet of the month of May is a Shih Tzu in a shiny red wagon. Below the happy pup is the notation that May 2nd-8th, 2010 is Be Kind to Animals Week. According to the American Humane Association , this week has been celebrated since 1915 as a time to “commemorate the role animals play in our lives, promote ways to continue to treat them humanely, and encourage others, especially children, to do the same.”
The collection of Historic Sheet Music, 18oo-1920 in the Performing Arts Encyclopedia is home to sundry odes to the family pet; a song documenting the eternal feud between our favorite animal companions, “Casey’s Dog and Tracey’s cat“; and a soldier’s lament at the loss of his ”Poor kitty popcorn.”
Among the Music Division’s photographic collections are portraits of composers and musicians with their most faithful companion. See the legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday at New York’s Downbeat club with with her boxer “Mister,” from the William P. Gottlieb Collection;
see Gerry Mulligan and Dizzy Gillespie invite an unnamed pup to play, from the Gerry Mulligan Collection; and see John Philip Sousa posing with his shaggy familiars in The March King: John Philip Sousa.
There may only be two days left of Be Kind To Animals Week 2010, but In the Muse asks you, gentle reader, to please be kind to animals and each other; not only for the rest of this week, but every day in the year.
Addendum: a colleague informs me today is the birthday of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). Celebrate this great composer with materials from the Performing Arts Encyclopedia, including this manuscript of his violin concerto, op. 77. Interestingly, in light of today’s theme, it was long rumored that Brahms had a murderous dislike for cats. But Calum MacDonald, author of the book Brahms, revealed this to be false witness perpetrated by rival composer Richard Wagner. Read more about this in a fascinating article about composers, cats, and calumny in The Guardian.