West Side Story: The Creation of a Classic

Last month, the Music Division presented its live webinar, “West Side Story: The Creation of a Classic,” featuring Senior Music Specialist Mark Horowitz presenting on the creation of the 1957 musical. Drawing on materials from the Leonard Bernstein Collection, the Arthur Laurents Papers, and the Oliver Smith Papers to illustrate his talk, Mark engaged attendees in an illuminating discussion of the collaborative, creative process of developing the musical from its earliest conception to its Broadway premiere. Music Reference Specialist Cait Miller also highlights digitized materials related to West Side Story from the Leonard Bernstein Digital Collection, and connects attendees with relevant research guides: Leonard Bernstein: A Guide to Resources and Musicals of Stage and Screen: A Guide to Resources. The webinar wraps up with a Question and Answer session led by Music Archivist Janet McKinney.

Steven Spielberg’s new film adaptation of West Side Story releases in theaters this Friday, December 10th. We hope that watching the recording of last month’s webinar will enhance your own understanding of the musical’s history and provide new insight as you watch the film. If you have any questions about the webinar or anything in the Library’s collections related to West Side Story, please send our reference librarians an email through Ask a Librarian!

Allen Toussaint’s Treasures Found in L.A. Swapmeet

In 2007, the Library presented back-to-back concerts with two quintessential New Orleans pianists Henry Butler and Allen Toussaint. Mr. Toussaint was in the news recently because his legacy studio recordings, long thought lost in the flood from Hurricane Katrina, turned up at a swap meet in Torrance, California. Toussaint wrote, arranged and produced many hits […]

Finding Strayhorn: Reflections from Chris Potter

The following is a guest post from saxophonist Chris Potter, who participated in the Music Division’s Finding Strayhorn discussion panel on June 12, 2019. My visit to the Library of Congress fortunately coincided with the announcement that the Billy Strayhorn Music Manuscripts and Estate Papers are now available for the public to study. I was […]

Remembering Lil Hardin Armstrong

Sunday February 3 gives us the opportunity to remember one of the first important songwriters in jazz, Lillian Hardin Armstrong. She was born on that day in 1898 in Memphis and may be best known as Louis Armstrong’s second wife and writer of some of his enduring classics, such as “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue,” which […]

Happy 95th Birthday to Max Roach

Today marks the 95th birthday of jazz drummer, bandleader and educator Max Roach (1924-2007). His papers are among the most heavily researched jazz archival collections in the Music Division revealing much about jazz and the intersection of modernism and the development of Black political consciousness in 20th-century music. And though the collection includes a draft […]

Story Time with Music

Friday, July 27 was a special day for me as a new employee at the Library of Congress. I had the wonderful opportunity to represent the Music Division in an outreach initiative, Story Time for Young Readers. Story Time is a program at the Young Readers Center every Friday at 10:30am. Once a month, March […]

Pride in the Library: LGBTQ+ Voices in the Library’s Collections

This is a guest post by Meg Metcalf, women’s, gender and LGBTQ+ studies librarian in the Main Reading Room. It was originally posted on the Library of Congress Blog. The collections of the Library of Congress tell the rich and diverse story of LGBTQ+ life in America and around the world. To share this story, […]

Smokey Robinson at Gershwin’s Piano

(The following is a guest post by Director of Communications Gayle Osterberg. It was originally published on the Library of Congress Blog.) This Friday (Feb. 10) PBS stations nationwide (9 pm Eastern – check your local listings) will share with America the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song tribute concert honoring Motown legend […]