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.
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].
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
Brilliant. There is no finer or clearer statement of the value of the LoC to scholars and practitioners in a thousand fields of the arts and sciences. Keep up the good works, all!