Teacher Appreciation Week

The following is a guest post from Archives Processing Technician Emily Baumgart.

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 3rd through 7th this year, and we’re thanking performing arts teachers by showcasing some of the outstanding educators represented in our Music Division holdings. From composers to music theorists, dramaturgs to choreographers, some artists taught out of necessity, while others made imparting knowledge their career focus.

Black and white photograph, teacher seated on floor before class.

Unidentified photographer. Armgard von Bardeleben demonstrates a floor exercise the Graham colleague Yuriko, undated. Armgard von Bardeleben Papers, Music Division.

Several of our collections highlight particular teachers. Alvina Krause, for example, was well known for her career as a drama teacher; some of her best-known pupils were Patricia Neal, Paula Prentiss, Charlton Heston, and Garry Marshall. Krause emphasized method acting, and taught at Northwestern University for 34 years, creating an acting curriculum that is still in use at the university today. Former student Mary Strachan Scriver explains that Krause’s teaching notes included directions to “Always have a purpose for being onstage.” Most of Krause’s teaching materials are held at Northwestern, but the Library of Congress holds her photographs, scrapbooks, scripts, correspondence, sketches, and other documents.

In the dance world, Armgard von Bardeleben had a decades-long teaching career at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. She joined the Martha Graham Company in 1973 and, though she continued performing throughout her career, primarily turned her focus to teaching, becoming director of the school from 1980 to 1983. In addition to teaching at the Graham School, she was also a professor of dance at the State University of New York at Purchase and the Musikhochschule KÓ§ln. As a performer she was known for her role as the Ancestress in Graham’s Letter to the World as well as her reconstructions of the works of Mary Wigman. Her collection includes her teaching notes, correspondence, photographs, and scrapbooks.

Letter from Aaron Copland to Nadia Boulanger, 1945. Box 248, folder 12, Aaron Copland Collection, Music Division.

In terms of music, we are lucky to be able to showcase the interrelated collections of a number of teachers and their students. Nadia Boulanger was a composer, conductor, and one of the most sought-after teachers for composers and performers of the twentieth century; the papers of 11 of her students are found at the Library of Congress: George Antheil, Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, David Diamond, Irving Fine, Ross Lee Finney, Richard Franko Goldman, Roy Harris, Elie Siegmeister, Henryk Szeryng, and Louise Talma. We also hold a small collection of photographs, concert programs, and clippings related to Boulanger’s career, but many of her materials can also be found spread throughout the collections of these students. Copland, one of her earliest American students, maintained a friendship with Boulanger long after his studies with her. Correspondence between Copland and Boulanger dates from the 1920s to the 1970s, and includes this letter from 1945 in which Copland responds to Boulanger’s enthusiasm for his recent ballet, Appalachian Spring (a Library of Congress commission). Louise Talma considered Boulanger one of the most important people in her life, even naming Boulanger her godmother when she converted to Catholicism. Like Copland’s collection, Talma’s features decades of correspondence to Boulanger but also contains extensive notes on Boulanger’s teachings and lectures, which are invaluable, as Boulanger herself never wrote down or codified her teaching methods.

Manuscript page of full score

William Schuman’s score for Chester, 1957. William Schuman Papers, Music Division.

Many students of Boulanger went on to teach students of their own, some of whose collections are also at the Library of Congress. Although he never studied with Copland in an official capacity, Leonard Bernstein often sought Copland’s advice on his works, calling Copland “his only real composition teacher.” Copland also taught Argentine-American composer Mario Davidovsky at the Berkshire Music Center, now known as Tanglewood. Roy Harris, known particularly for his symphonies, taught William Schuman, an influential teacher and administrator in his own right. Schuman was president of the Juilliard School for more than a decade, completely revamping the curriculum and shifting from a focus on creating virtuosi to a more well-rounded goal of “making responsible adults of musicians.” Schuman was also president of Lincoln Center, focusing on educational programs and outreach and combining the two institutions by moving Juilliard to Lincoln Center. The papers of Davidovsky and Schuman are also held by the Music Division.

Another teacher-and-student pair in the Music Division special collections are so intertwined that their materials are both encompassed in one collection. Harpsichordist Wanda Landowska was primarily responsible for the renewed popularity of the instrument in the twentieth century; she had many students, but shared a bond with student Denise Restout, who became her assistant and companion for the rest of Landowska’s life and who administered the Landowska legacy for five decades after Landowska’s death. The two escaped France together in 1940, saving only what they could carry of Landowska’s scores and teachings before her vast library and collection of musical instruments were plundered by the Nazis. As a result, most of Landowska and Restout’s collection at the Library of Congress is made up of materials from their careers after they settled in the United States. The collection includes many annotated scores and much of Landowska’s teaching materials, as well as documents pertaining to Restout’s book, Landowska on Music.

Typed page

Wanda Landowska’s Technic Lesson, June 27, 1943. Box 165, folder 6, Wanda Landowska and Denise Restout Papers, Music Division.

These are just a few of the collections of teachers represented in the Music Division. To learn more about these and other educators in the performing arts, check out the Performing Arts Special Collections page. For teachers looking to use Music Division materials in their classroom, we’ve compiled the K-12 Music Education Resources at the Library of Congress.

Thank you to all teachers in the performing arts fields!

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