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From Page to Stage with the Music Division

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Detail from "Bernstein in his apartment at 32 W. 10th St., New York City, September 11, 1947." Photographer: Victor Kraft.

The following is a guest post by James Wintle, Reference Specialist, and Mark Horowitz, Senior Music Specialist.

This winter, one of the hottest tickets in Washington DC is the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s revival of Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide, in a new production written and directed by Mary Zimmerman. Fans of the show, who want to see a behind-the-scenes view of the creation of this American music masterpiece, should take a look inside the Music Division of the Library of Congress. The Music Division holds a collection of Leonard Bernstein’s papers and music manuscripts that includes a wealth of material related to Candide. Some of the highlights include Bernstein’s sketches and musical manuscripts for the literally dozens of numbers he wrote for the show, correspondence with original librettist Lillian Hellman (though mostly about later productions), several scenes, scripts, notes and lyric sheets for the original 1956 production, and innumerable scripts for later productions and concert reworkings, several of which Bernstein collaborated on. The collection even includes the opening night telegrams he received. While the show itself might not be the best of all possible musicals, there’s little doubt that it is indeed one of the best of all possible scores, from its brilliant “Overture,” which has now become a standard orchestral showpiece, to the pyrotechnical aria, “Glitter and Be Gay,”  to the moving choral finale, “Make Our Garden Grow.”

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