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 […]

Laughter is the best Music

“Hardly had the first song been composed before someone invented singing it out of tune. ” — Victor Borge, My Favorite Comedies in Music This April Fool’s Day, before asking your chum if she’d like to hear your musical henway,  read  what Leonard Bernstein said about Humor in Music in a script for one of […]

Jazz in the Spring: My Name is Albert Ayler

During the month of April, the Pickford Theater will host Jazz in the Spring at the Nation’s Library, curated by Larry Appelbaum, Reference Specialist in the Music Division.  The series begins Monday April 5th with the Washington Premiere of My Name is Albert Ayler. The prophetic free jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler, who today is seen as one of […]

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’ […]

Concerto Soave: Rome on the Potomac

Next Thursday, February 25, 8:00, the Coolidge Auditorium will ring with the sounds of seventeenth-century Italy as the Music Division hosts Concerto Soave. This intimate ensemble from southern France was founded by Jean-Marc Ayme and Grammy-winning soprano Maria Cristina Kiehr. Their tapestry of instrumental timbres is woven from harp, cello, harpsichord, and portative organ for […]

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.