{ subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/nls-music-notes.php' }

Bernstein at 100

When I was in grade school, our chorus teacher let us hear a record called What Is Jazz (DBM00704), where tone color, blue notes, syncopation, and other aspects of jazz were described by a man named Leonard Bernstein (I assumed that he was a jazz piano player).

By sixth grade I was listening to classical music on the radio. One evening the major work was Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein. “Were there TWO Leonard Bernsteins?” I wondered as the famous first movement began. Later in the program, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf came on, with Bernstein conducting and telling the familiar story. Yes, it was the same voice that I’d heard on What Is Jazz. I had always viewed jazz and classical music as totally separate worlds, but here was Bernstein moving easily in both.

Leonard Bernstein, half-length portrait, facing right, seated at piano, making annotations to musical score

Leonard Bernstein, half-length portrait, facing right, seated at piano, making annotations to musical score. Photograph by Al. Ravenna, 1955. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c27784

August 25, 2018, will be the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein, and the Library of Congress is celebrating with film screenings, concerts, and more. Thousands of items from his personal and professional archives are available online in the Library’s digital Leonard Bernstein Collection. These include a recording of his sermon, “Hope in the Nuclear Age” (from January 22, 1985); sketches for a Holocaust opera, “Babel” (which he was composing just before he died); and information about his involvement in the civil rights movement.

On NLS Music Notes, you may find “Made in America”, from August 25, 2016. In it, Donna Koh gives much information about Bernstein’s career and lists many Bernstein works in the NLS music collection. Here are a few more items that we offer:

Flag Day (DBM00922): “Music and commentary about the Red, White and Blue.”

There Are Some Days You Don’t Forget, Part 1 (DBM01179): “Reminiscences of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and the ‘Great Invasion0’.”

Chichester Psalms (BRM34653), tenor chorus part only

Gloria Tibi, from “Mass, A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers” (BRM30150, 3 volumes), Celebrant, First and Second Boys Choir

Libretto for West Side Story, BR 00156: (Note: A novelization of the musical can be heard on cartridge or on BARD, at DB 50927).

Blind Musicians from A to Z: D – Blind John Davis and Arizona Dranes

Blind John Davis Blind John Davis was born in Mississippi in 1913, but moved to Chicago with his family at a young age.  He lost his sight shortly thereafter at age 9. He began to learn the piano as a teen, and later became a regular session musician for famous blues record producer Lester Melrose […]

Nashville Cats!

According to the song “Nashville Cats” by the Lovin’ Spoonful, there are “thirteen-hundred and fifty-two guitar pickers in Nashville.”  I wouldn’t question that number, but in fact I suspect it has increased dramatically since that song debuted in 1966. As my colleague Lindsay Conway wrote about in her blog post Music City 101:  NLS Heads […]

Music City 101: NLS Heads to Nashville!

Last month country music legend Dolly Parton joined Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden in a presentation to celebrate the achievements of Parton’s book-gifting organization (video of the event available here). They announced that the Library of Congress Young Readers Center is partnering with Parton’s charity to provide a special series of story time events. […]

From Nigeria to Colombia: an Homage to Braille Music

I recently read a compelling blog post about a 2015 Pulitzer-winning historical fiction novel.  The blogger, a college professor who is blind, expressed her sadness and frustration about the book’s misrepresentation of blind people described through the actions and inactions of the book’s young blind heroine. The blogger also lamented how most sighted readers accepted […]

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: D (Part 1 – Dello Joio, Norman)

Norman Dello Joio (born Nicodemo DeGioio) was born in New York City in January 1913. His father and grandfather had been church musicians, and Norman was set to follow their footsteps, as he became the organist and choir director at age 14. When he was 26, he received a scholarship to attend Julliard, where he […]

Immortal Swing: The Music of Glenn Miller

While thinking about a topic for this week’s blog post, I made a happy discovery: American bandleader and musician Glenn Miller shares a birthday with Frédéric Chopin! Although these two musicians come from very different places and eras, they do share another thing in common besides a birthday: memorable music. We’ll talk about Glenn Miller […]

EXTRA!!! Recent BARD Additions, Late January-February Edition

Here is a listing of the most recent BARD additions.  If you aren’t able to find something on this list for learning or entertainment, check back next month, or the next; something will come your way.  In the meantime, a tune many of us heard from a television comedy of the 60s, “Ballad of Gilligan’s […]

NLS Music Magazine Roundup!

The following is a guest blog post by new Music Reader Services librarian Lindsay Conway. Did you know that the National Library Service offers subscriptions to music magazines, free of charge to NLS patrons? The NLS Music Section produces Musical Mainstream, Contemporary Soundtrack, and Popular Music Lead Sheets. NLS also offers free subscriptions to five […]