The following is a guest post from Senior Music Specialist Kate Rivers:
November 7 marks the birthday of renowned American composer, educator, conductor, and writer Steven Stucky (1949-2016), who would have turned seventy today. This remarkable Grammy- and Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer was a valued, long-time friend of the Music Division, and we are honored that he chose the Library of Congress as the permanent home for his music manuscripts and papers.
Always generous with his time and talents, Steve worked with the Music Division on committees and projects through the years, but he rarely took time away from business assignments to browse materials in our collections. On his most recent visit to the Library, we were determined to show Steve a few unexpected items that we hoped would remind him of the breadth and depth of our collections—and perhaps would entice him to come back and linger on a future trip to Washington. On a whim, the first box we pulled was from our Oscar Hammerstein II Collection, one filled with pencil-sketched words to be sung in Maine accents, clipped newspaper recipes for cooking lobster, and information about the mill industry in New England—all kept in Hammerstein’s quirky background ‘research’ files used in the creation of the great show Carousel. Steve was naturally a quiet fellow, but he became utterly silent as he examined the folders. His reaction caused us to think that we totally failed, having missed the mark with this odd box of papers. But it turns out that he was stunned at the sights before him. Steve reported that Carousel was the first stage performance he remembered from his mid-west childhood, a recurring staple from a summer touring production. It was his mother’s favorite show, and their ritual attendance on multiple evenings each season played a big part in Steve’s musical ‘muscle memory.’ He loved seeing hidden elements behind the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic that he knew so well.
We’re pleased to remember that of the millions of items in our collections, we stumbled on the right thing for our friend. Happy Birthday, Steve!