Furry Friends of Music

The world’s greatest artists leave behind them legacies that we happily preserve in the Music Division’s archival collections. Scholars come to our reading room from all over the world to study creative process, be it the origin of a lyric in sketch material, a composer’s annotations in a publisher’s proof, or artistic collaborations via correspondence. But our archival collections can also reveal the personal side of these great personalities – they document favorite recipes, correspondence with loved ones, and, of course, they document the important role that their furry friends play in their lives! So we begin a new blog series featuring artists’ feline, canine and all other sorts of loyal companions. Today I offer three short examples, with a mental list of more in-depth stories to come!

John Philip Sousa, our revered American “March King,” began donating his music manuscripts to the Library of Congress in 1914. Over the years, Sousa family members and others have contributed additional Sousa-related materials to our collections, including photographs. The composer and bandleader certainly adored canine companions; one of his favorite sayings went, “A horse, a dog, a gun, a girl, and music on the side. That is my idea of heaven.” The Library’s Sousa photographs feature him visiting and posing with various dogs, from his neighbor’s dogs to a stranger’s pup in Bryant Park.

Composer and conductor John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) with a dog and a woman, probably in Bryant Park, New York City (Bain News Service, publisher; between ca. 1915 and ca. 1920). Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Composer and conductor John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) with a dog and a woman, probably in Bryant Park, New York City (Bain News Service, publisher; between ca. 1915 and ca. 1920). Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

 

Sousa with dogs (photographer unknown, ca. 1920). Music Division, Library of Congress.

Sousa with dogs (photographer unknown, ca. 1920). Music Division, Library of Congress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geraldine Farrar, half-length portrait, facing front, holding dog (photographer Edwin F. Townsend, New York., c. 1922). Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Geraldine Farrar, half-length portrait, facing front, holding dog (photographer Edwin F. Townsend, New York., c. 1922). Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog features this charming portrait of American soprano Geraldine Farrar posing with her Pekingese, Sniffles Tellegen (Farrar was married to actor Lou Tellegen from 1916-1923; the couple divorced after starring in three films together). And Sniffles was a film star in her own right! The Pekingese starred alongside Farrar in two 1919 films: Shadows and The World and its Women (check it out – Sniffles gets a cast mention on AFI’s record for Shadows in its catalog of feature films!).
 

 

Irving Berlin is remembered as one of America’s greatest songwriters, but he too made room for a pooch in his personal life. In fact, the Irving Berlin Collection features the American Kennel Club registration certificate for the Berlins’ black and tan Manchester Terrier. The certificate was processed in 1965 when Berlin would have been 77 years old, and the owner is actually listed as Ellin Berlin, the composer’s wife. No doubt Irving took in just as much joy from their added family member!

American Kennel Club registration certificate for Irving Berlin's dog (March 2, 1965). Music Division, Library of Congress

American Kennel Club registration certificate for Irving Berlin’s dog (March 2, 1965). Music Division, Library of Congress

I have many more stories of pets as featured in our archival collections mentally stored and ready to write up, so look out for more charming tales of furry friends to come!

7 Comments

  1. Sharon M.
    April 20, 2016 at 8:43 am

    This is a great start to what will be a wonderful series. I love seeing the personal side of composers and performers, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of their cats!

  2. Laura
    April 20, 2016 at 8:45 am

    This has to be one of my favorite blog posts so far! I can’t wait to hear about and see photos of more musician’s animal companions!

  3. Andrea Cawelti
    April 20, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Sousa’s personality comes through so strongly in photos. The New York Public Library Music Division owns a wonderful photo series of Sousa frolicking amidst a grove of flowering rhododendrons, with his wife and family. No guns or horses in evidence, though …

  4. Rachna A
    April 20, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Excellent blog! Very well written! Can’t wait for more!

  5. Libby
    April 21, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Music Division also has a home movie filmed by the son-in-law of Bronislava Nijinska labeled “Nijinska at home with her cats” and a photo of Pavlova with her French bulldogs. I look forward to adding more of our dance figures to this thread!

  6. Bill Eyl
    April 21, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    These are wonderful, I’ve always thought pets help stimulate genius. As a music fan it is wonderful to see our greatest musicians with their pets. I hope you will share more of your collection.

  7. Terry
    April 24, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    What fun. Looking forward to this!

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