In the Muse recently put out a call to Music Division staff in search of ghost stories, and while nobody would tell me outright that they felt an unexplained cold spot on the Coolidge Auditorium stage, or that sounds of the Stradivarius would emerge mysteriously from an empty hall, the age and history of this institution, particularly the Jefferson Building, can fire the imagination in ways beyond the academic. The Library of Congress does not keep an official count of their spectral visitors, but Natalie Zanin, a Washington-area native who runs a number of local ghost tours, has suggested to me that spirits haunt the stacks and walk the dim tunnels that connect the Library campus to the Capitol and environs. She also points out that the Jefferson Building was constructed on what was once known as Carroll Row, whose nineteenth-century structures housed at various points in their history, a hotel and a prison — venue types that are notorious among aficionados of the paranormal.
The Coolidge Auditorium, whose founder celebrates a birthday today, has hosted a number of ghostly concerts over the years, but we were fortunate that the programs featured living musicians, like the Anthony Braxton ensemble’s 1998 premiere of “Ghost Trance Duo for Violin and Piano ” and the Florestan Trio’s 2008 performance of Beethoven’s Piano Trio in D Major, op. 70, no. 1 – known as the “Ghost Trio” for a theme originally intended for an opera based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Have a spooky and safe Halloween!