Happy Easter

The glorious weather we’re having in Washington gives us much to celebrate in both the secular and spiritual realms. See Easter hymns from the Coptic tradition in Coptic Orthodox Liturgical Chant & Hymnody in the Performing Arts Encyclopedia. Remember Passover with the Yiddish play,  The mother of the world, or, Children come home in The American […]

Ben Webster: Whispering in his Sweetheart’s Ear

Ben Webster, one of the great tenor saxophonists, was born March 27, 1909 in Kansas City, Missouri.  Along with bassist Jimmy Blanton, Webster helped form one of the most celebrated incarnations of the Duke Ellington orchestra. From 1940-1942,  the Blanton-Webster band recorded such Ellington classics as “Cotton Tail,” “Chelsea Bridge,” and, of course, “Take the ‘A’ […]

A little birthday music

His work has been interpreted by everyone from Barbara Streisand to Tim Burton. Lyricist-composer Stephen Sondheim, one of the great voices in American musical theater, was born on March 22,  1930. In 2000, The Library of Congress honored him with a Living Legend award, complete with an all-star 70th birthday concert in the Coolidge Auditorium. […]

Bach’s Birthday

Baseball season is just around the corner; Johann Sebastian Bach (not to be confused with Canadian heavy-metal singer Sebastian Bach) has just celebrated a birthday; what better time than now to revisit  From Bach to Baseball Cards: Preserving the  Nation’s Heritage at the Library of Congress. This web presentation looks at some of the problems […]

An’ a one, an’ a two …

Bandleader-accordionist Lawrence Welk  was the musical voice of a faraway time in America, before  punk rock, hip-hop, and Lady Gaga.  The son of German immigrants from the Ukraine, Welk was born in Strasburg, North Dakota on March 11, 1903.  The first big break in Welk’s long and storied career came in 1927, when Lawrence Welk […]

Happy 100th Birthday, Samuel Barber!

The following post is by James Wintle, Reference Specialist. The Music Division of the Library of Congress, in cooperation with the Samuel Barber estate and G. Schirmer, Inc., have created an online exhibition of original manuscripts, correspondence, and performances to commemorate the birth of one of America’s most beloved composers. The web presentation is available […]

Happy Birthday Chopin!

The following post is by Robin Rausch, Senior Music Specialist. If you have ever been a serious student of the piano, you have likely had the pleasure of playing Frédéric Chopin’s music.  He wrote almost exclusively for the instrument; his ballades, etudes, mazurkas, nocturnes, polonaises, preludes, scherzos, and waltzes count among the staples of the pianist’s […]

African-American History Month: James Reese Europe

“He was our benefactor and inspiration. Even more, he was the Martin Luther King of Music.” Pianist Eubie Blake said this of  composer/bandleader James Reese Europe,  who was born in Mobile, Alabama on February 22, 1881. Europe’s accomplishments run from the grand “Concert of Negro Music” that he conducted for a 125-man orchestra at Carnegie Hall in […]

Happy Birthday Mister President, Happy Birthday to You

We all can’t be Marilyn Monroe cooing a personal birthday greeting to the Commander-in-Chief. But this President’s Day weekend gives all Americans a chance to remember our iconic leaders and take advantage of holiday sales — and gives the Mid-Atlantic States more time to dig out from the record-breaking snowfall that brought the region to […]