African-American History Month

Celebrate African-American History month with a presentation of  African-American Band Stocks on the Performing Arts Encyclopedia. This collection of “stock” arrangements – published orchestrations for instrumental groups – is written by some of the most important African-American composers of the early 20th century. Among those represented are J. Rosamond Johnson,  whose most famous song,  ”Lift Ev’ry Voice […]

Our Distinguished Visitors

Reference Specialist Larry Appelbaum has helped welcome a diverse array of musical luminaries to the Music Division.  Here are just a few. Herbie Hancock, upon receiving his Living Legends award. Dave Brubeck’s 2003 performance in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium can be heard here. Larry recently interviewed Mr. Brubeck and his wife and lyricist Iola Brubeck. […]

Happy Birthday Django!

There are but a handful of musicians whose innovations changed the way their instrument is played.  Among these is guitarist Django Reinhardt, born January 23rd, 1910. Let us remember his centenary with this photo by William P. Gottlieb (whose birthday is January 28th). Listen to Gottlieb talk about Django and this photo session here.

The Big Beat

The photographs of  William P. Gottlieb (1917-2006 ) are a priceless document of the jazz era in the ’30’s and ’40’s.  In the Muse will occasionally highlight selections from this collection. Today we celebrate the birthdays of two legendary jazz drummers. When the Music Division prepared the Gottlieb collection for digitization in the ’90’s, Gottlieb worked […]

From Zero to Sixty in Four Bars

If you happened on the holiday classic In the good old Summertime recently, you might have noticed a scene where the great Buster Keaton trips and shatters what he thinks is a precious Stradivarius. Fortunately, it’s only a movie.  Even more fortunately, those lucky enough to nab tickets for tonight’s concert in the Coolidge Auditorium can celebrate the holidays with a life more wonderful than the movies. This evening, as it has since 1936, the Library of Congress remembers Antonio Stradivari with a memorial concert on the anniversary of his death, played on several of the Library’s precious Strads.

This year we welcome The Parker Quartet to our hallowed stage. During a break in rehearsals yesterday, I asked the members of the quartet how it felt to play a piece of history. Interestingly, two of them hit on similar metaphors without hearing the other’s comments:

Photo by Janette Beckman, courtesy The Parker Quartet

Photo by Janette Beckman, courtesy The Parker Quartet

Daniel Chong, playing the  “Betts”  violin: I see instruments as being like people, and playing an instrument is like meeting a new person. And these instruments are absolutely beautiful and gorgeous — they have such vitality and life in them. One thing I was struck by when I picked them up is how great a condition these instruments were in as well. The amount of ring in these instruments is incredible – I feel like I’m going deaf with the amount of ring! It’s been a great pleasure and a great opportunity, like a dream come true.

Read more »

Meet the Music Division!

I was going to launch In the Muse, the Performing Arts Blog, with an introduction to the rich collection of what is one of the premier Performing Arts archives in the world.  I was going to guide you, the reader, into the deepest recesses of the Performing Arts Encyclopedia, and highlight the world-renowned concert series  in […]