Andrew White: “Petey, Me and the Library of Congress”

The following is a guest blog by Andrew N. White III, a participant in the Library’s DC Jazz Project, a component of the 2016-2017 Library of Congress Jazz Scholars program. This program is made possible by the Reva and David Logan Foundation. White delivered a lecture-recital at the Library on November 3, 2016 (a video of which will be released in the coming months).

It heartened me in late October of 2016 to have a perusal session at the Library of Congress Performing Arts Reading Room with one of my liaisons there, Larry Appelbaum. He showed me some of the Library’s rare, pampered and meticulously housed music scores of works created by jazz luminaries such as Charles Mingus, Wayne Shorter, George Russell and Eric Dolphy, all among others including myself, Andrew White.

I had a warm bodily glow while realizing that such ongoing care had been taken to preserve the handiwork of such composers, authors and performers of the like. And that with certain easy research and active procurement, the interested general public at large could share such great representation of the creative minds that have graced this art and our presences over the past so many years of the history of library science which is embodied in our Library of Congress.

Whereas on many private levels such preservation has been our main source of the perpetuation of such perspectives and enterprises, it is our Library of Congress that leads the way in preserving such great work of American minds and as well many of the grand acumen and labors from beyond our borders.

Andrew White, November 3, 2016, by Larry Appelbaum

Andrew White, November 3, 2016, by Larry Appelbaum


Personally, I can cite my own research as a young oboist back in early 1968.  I had been approached by, auditioned for and accepted the position of principal oboist with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) of New York.  Before my first tour with the ABT in January of 1968 I was [asked] by one of the musical directors [as to] whether I “knew the ‘complete’ ballet of Swan Lake by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.” I did not know the “complete” Swan Lake.  I knew only certain popular sections I had encountered in oboe excerpt books I had studied at the likes of Tanglewood in the summers of 1963, 1966 and the Paris Conservatory of Music on a John Hay Whitney Foundation Fellowship from September 1964 through June of 1965 in Paris, France.

The answer to the almighty question of “where is the complete score to Swan Lake?” was easily answered at my first step of inquiry: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.

To make a longer story shorter, the Library of Congress had the complete Swan Lake score (a Russian publication) in its coffers and I heartily gorged myself on “Ole Petey’s [Tchaikovsky] Oeuvre.”

After days on end I culminated my research with my “own” custom-made Swan Lake oboe excerpt book. This caper put me far ahead of all my contemporaries and other oboe playing rookies of the day who had [gestated] and/or would in the near future gestate the meager offerings of the general etudic-excerpted, scribed and scribbled, commercial…marketplace. Usually at many times over—great expense.

Not to worry about trying to skimp on the cost(s) of it all, but the Library of Congress is a federal institution.  Therefore, I was able to study “Le Lac” without paying a dime. It, my sole benefit, was all free due to my citizen[ship].

Andrew White lecturing at the Library of Congress, November 3, 2016, by Larry Appelbaum.

Andrew White lecturing at the Library of Congress, November 3, 2016, by Larry Appelbaum.

So! Whether it’s Petey T. (Tchaikovsky), Pete Seeger, Peter and the Wolf or Pete Peeper Me (Andrew White), the advantage of [this type] of research… [is the ability] to share…creativity, inspiration, genius [for]…young rookie classicos, such as myself. [I was] approximately twenty-six years-old at [the] time when I met the birds of Swan Lake. I’m 74 now.

This is just one example of the abstract, practical and pragmatic virtues of research and/or development to be garnered from our beloved Library of Congress.

With the inclusion of all of my eight hundred and forty transcriptions of John Coltrane’s improvisations: The Works of John Coltrane – Volumes One through Sixteen, I feel very highly honored and privileged to be a part of the Library of Congress’s vast resources of information about Mr. Coltrane’s musical genius. The Library also holds deposits of over two thousand of my literary works, jazz and classical compositions, and my sixty-plus sound recordings.

So, to the “Library”  (or “stacks”) I thank you for my inclusion in your racks of information and your help in the perpetual documentation of my own work into its perpetuity.

Andrew N. White III

Discovering Composer Amanda Maier

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Martyn, a violinist and a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Music. Her research focuses on the life and career of Amanda Maier. She is particularly interested in Maier’s career as a violinist and how her performances and repertoire can inform us about the […]

Food for Thought: Recipes in the Collections

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up this week, most peoples’ thoughts turn to food and family recipes. It seems like the perfect time to share recipes that rest in the Music Division’s collection. One of the more memorable comes from a 19th-century virtuoso: Paganini’s ravioli! The Music Division is home to a collection of Paganini […]

When Smokey Sings, Forget Everything

In a recent interview with Smokey Robinson, recipient of this year‘s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the songwriter told the Music Division about the birth of Motown, which he co-founded with Berry Gordy, Jr. Asked about the crossover appeal of the label, Robinson passed on something that Gordy had said to him: “I’m going to […]

Veterans Day Playlist

This week our nation comes together to honor the brave men and women who have made many sacrifices while serving in uniform. As you commemorate their contributions to protecting our freedoms, we invite you to listen to some patriotic music from our collections. “In the Muse” Veterans Day Playlist Eternal Father, Strong to Save [“The […]

Preview: Smokey Robinson Interview

Our colleague Michele L. Glymph recently had a chance to sit down with 2016 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honoree Smokey Robinson. Their fascinating conversation will be released in the coming weeks as a video, but we’re pleased to offer you a sneak preview! Interview Excerpt (MG = Michele L. Glymph; SR […]

Shooting Stars: Bowie and Prince on Film

This year we’ve lost too many beloved figures in the entertainment world.  Among them, the deaths of David Bowie and Prince struck the Music Division particularly hard. These two iconic performers made a lot of great records, and a lot of perhaps less-than-great movies. Many of their films have been screened in area repertory theaters, […]