Top of page

Best of the Music Section: 2020 Edition

Share this post:

Poster for statewide WPA Library Project, Illinois, showing a child pulling a sled full of books up a snow-covered hill toward a house. Caption reads "January--A year of good reading ahead."
“January–A year of good reading ahead / Hazlett.” 1 print on board (poster) : silkscreen, color. Created by the WPA Art Project in Chicago, Illinois, [between 1936 and 1941].
The year 2020 brought trials and tribulations beyond the scope of living memory to the world’s population, and the NLS Music Section was not untouched by the upheavals of this momentous time. The staff of the Music Section adjusted to working from home with limited access to our office and physical collections. Despite these challenges, the Music Section successfully added dozens of new materials to its collection for NLS patrons to use and enjoy. We hope that these new acquisitions have been a source of comfort and diversion amid the pain and suffering that have burdened so many.

Of course, the Music Section is not alone in its work. We are able to work from home thanks to the support of our colleagues at the Library of Congress. And we are able to add new braille music, talking books, and large-print music to our collection by collaborating with amazing braille music transcribers, the NLS Media Lab, and the dedicated volunteers of Sigma Alpha Iota’s Bold Note project, just to name a few.

During this eventful and difficult year, some of the new materials we added to our collection may have escaped your notice. So we take time this week to highlight some of those acquisitions and send you into the New Year with new music to enjoy. What follows is the “Best of the Music Section: 2020 Edition.”

Most of the materials listed below are available for NLS patrons to download from BARD, and all of them are also available to borrow via mail. To borrow hard copies of braille music or talking books on digital cartridge, please call us at 1-800-424-8567 (choose option 2), or e-mail us at [email protected].


Braille Music Scores

This year delivered a “bumper crop” for lovers of J.S. Bach (and, really, who doesn’t love him?):

J.S. Bach’s Complete Organ Works (new Bärenreiter Urtext edition)

Bach, Johann Sebastian. The Six French Suites, BWV 812-817, BWV 818, 819, 818a, 819a. For piano or clavier in bar over bar format. (BRM36890)

J.S. Bach at His Royal Instrument: Essays on His Organ Works by Russell Stinson (12 volumes). (BRM36976)

And here are additional highlights from the new braille music transcriptions we acquired this year:

Beethoven, Ludwig van, Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125. (BRM36858). Full orchestral score of Symphony no. 9 in D Minor, op. 125, in open score format. Includes solo and chorus parts in line by line format, and choral score in bar over bar format.

Beethoven, Ludwig van. 32 Variations in C minor for the Pianoforte. Bar over bar format. (BRM36925)

Bernstein, Leonard. Chichester Psalms (in three movements). For mixed choir (or male choir), boy soloist, and orchestra. To be sung in Hebrew. Vocal parts in line by line format and the orchestral reduction for piano in bar over bar format. 6 volumes. (BRM36817)

Chopin, Frédéric.

Korngold, Erich Wolfgang. Concerto in D major, op. 35. Violin solo part for Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Major, op. 35. Single line format. (BRM36909)

Liszt, Franz. Piano Sonata in B minor: S. 178 from Musikalische Werke. Serie II, Band 8 (pp.103-138). For piano in bar over bar format. (BRM36815)

Rachmaninoff, Sergei. Piano concerto no. 1, op. 1 in F-sharp minor: arranged for 2 pianos. Piano solo with orchestral accompaniment arranged for second piano. Bar over bar format. (BRM36886)

Scriabin, Aleksandr. Piano Sonata no. 8. Bar over bar format. (BRM36958)

Villa-Lobos, Heitor. Ciclo Brasileiro. A suite for piano. Bar over bar format. (BRM36910)

Braille Methods and Instructional Books

The Music Section added numerous method books and other music instruction books in braille in 2020, and here is a selection of those:

Bastien, Jane Smisor and James W. Bastien.

Suzuki Flute School, Volume 8, revised edition (BRM36966)

Suzuki Flute School, Volume 9, revised edition (BRM36967)

Feldstein, Sandy. Yamaha Band Student. Flute. Book 1. (BRM36844)

Gordon, Claude. Systematic Approach to Daily Practice for Trumpet. A fifty-two week trumpet course designed to develop a register from the second C below low C to C above high C, along with the power, endurance, sound and control necessary to meet the demands required of the professional trumpet player. Single line format. (BRM36911)

Montal, Claude. The Art of Tuning. A Self-Guided Manual for Piano Tuning, Design, Action Regulation, and Repair from mid-19th-Century France. For the Piano Owner and Technician, with Guidelines for Training People who are Blind and Visually Impaired; transcribed by Kathleen Cantrell and John Hanson. In 4 volumes. (BRM36857)

Smith, Walter Milton. Top Tones for the Trumpeter. 30 Modern Etudes. (BRM36845)

Pearson, Bruce; Nowlin, Ryan. Oboe Book 1. Tradition of Excellence: Comprehensive Band Method. (BRM36960)

Pearson, Bruce. Percussion Book 1, Tradition of Excellence. (BRM36863)

Photograph of Oscar Moore, Nat King Cole, and Wesley Prince, New York, N.Y., ca. July 1946, collaborating at an upright piano.
[Portrait of Oscar Moore, Nat King Cole, and Wesley Prince, New York, N.Y., ca. July 1946]. Photograph by William P. Gottlieb, ca. 1946. William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

Braille Songbooks

Finally, we have several new and exciting braille songbooks in the collection. Here is a sampling:

Contemporary Disney. Seven songs from Disney motion pictures and musicals. For piano, voice, and guitar. In line by line and bar over bar formats with guitar chord diagrams. (BRM36812)

Nat “King” Cole: Unforgettable. A selection of songs made famous by Nat “King” Cole. For voice and piano with chord symbols in line by line and bar over bar formats. 3 volumes. (BRM36841)

The Beatles Best. More than 120 Great Hits. For voice, melody and chords. Transcribed by Christina Davidson and Karen Gearreald. 5 volumes. (BRM36944)

The Praise & Worship Fake Book: Melody, Lyrics, Chords for all “C” Instruments. Melody with lyrics and chord symbols for more than 400 songs. Line by line format. 11 volumes. (BRM36862)

Talking Books

Music Instruction

Journey through Braille Music. Episodes 1-6. A six-part podcast series describing the history, development, and uses of braille music. The series offers an excellent introduction for new learners. (DBM04274)

We have added numerous lessons from Bill Brown’s Bass by Ear and Guitar by Ear series, including several songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival:

Lookin’ Out My Back Door (DBM04185)

Have You Ever Seen the Rain? (DBM04180)

Fortunate Son (DBM04177)

Born on the Bayou (DBM04173)

New Piano by Ear instruction from Bill Brown includes several lessons for pieces by J.S. Bach:

Gavotte in G minor – J.S. Bach, BWV 822 (DBM04193)
Bourrée in E minor – J.S. Bach, BWV 996 (DBM04191)

Music Appreciation

Smithsonian Folkways Podcasts

During the past year, we added four fantastic series of audio programs from Smithsonian Folkways to our collection. These series are a feast for the ears, taking you on a tour of folk music from the United States and around the globe.

Tapestry of the Times: “Join Aaron Henkin on an ear-opening voyage back in time and around the globe as he takes listeners on 36, hour-long tours through the wide-ranging sound archives of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Real music, real people, and the stories behind the sounds.” Listen to episode 1. (DBM04014-DBM04049)

The Folkways Collection: “This series of 24 one-hour programs explores the remarkable collection of music, spoken word, and sound recordings that make up Folkways Records… The music of modern day giants like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Ani Difranco is interwoven with original Folkways recordings to demonstrate the lasting legacy that Folkways Records has on popular music. Recent and archival interviews with Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Mickey Hart, Studs Terkel, and others help reveal the remarkable human stories behind this equally remarkable collection.” Listen to episode 1, A Folkways Overture. (DBM04111-DBM04134)

Sounds to Grow On “…is about Moses “Moe” Asch, and, more specifically about Folkways Records, the company he founded in 1948, and its catalogue of staggering diversity and eclecticism.” Listen to episode 1. (DBM04064-04088)

Sound Sessions from Smithsonian Folkways is “an audio journey into the rich, eclectic, and sometimes eccentric Smithsonian Folkways archive…” Listen to episode 1, Doc Watson. (DBM04000-DBM04013)

Performing Arts Lectures from the Library of Congress

Beginning in 2020, the Music Section partnered with our colleagues in the Music Division, Hispanic Division, and American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to deliver recordings of music lectures and performances on BARD and digital cartridge. Topics include women in music, music therapy, jazz history, Broadway history, Cuban music, African dance rhythms, and Beethoven. The following is a small selection of the programs we’ve added:

Music and the Brain

Stevie Wonder: Sketches of a Life. Interview and concert. Stevie Wonder talks to Norman Middleton about his Library of Congress commission, “Sketches of a Life,” and his thoughts about composition and music. (DBM04282)

Conversation and Concert with Jazz Pianist Justin Kauflin. Pianist Justin Kauflin spoke with Karen Keninger and John Hanson and answered a variety of questions from the audience about his experience and career before his concert performance in the Coolidge Auditorium. (DBM04263)

Celebration of Machito: Mario Grillo. In 2015, Machito’s son, Mario Grillo, donated Machito’s handwritten scores and arrangements to the Library of Congress. In an interview with Library of Congress music reference specialist Larry Appelbaum, Grillo discusses his father’s contributions to American music. (DBM4283)

Preconcert Interview with Jennifer Higdon. Composer Jennifer Higdon discusses her viola concerto, which was commissioned in part by the Library of Congress. (DBM04289)

Rhythmic Imagination in African Music. Renowned musicologist Kofi Agawu lectures on his most recent book, “The African Imagination in Music,” with a focus on the chapter about rhythm. (DBM04294)

An Introduction to the Music of Clara Schumann. David Plylar discusses the music of Clara Schumann and the ways in which it intersects at times with the music of her husband, Robert. (DBM04225)

We also have a wonderful new music appreciation program from Wynton Marsalis, Harvard Lecture #1: Music as Metaphor.  ”In this chapter, Wynton introduces his ‘Me vs. You’ and ‘Us vs. Y’all’ vs. ‘All of Us’ contention, and argues that music has the significant power to bring us together and evoke moods and memories.” His remarks are interspersed with performed musical demonstrations. (DBM04299)

Large Print

Last but certainly not least, we acquired several wonderful new large-print scores and songbooks:

Bach, J.S. Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. (LPM00877)

Bach, J.S. Partita I [in B-flat, BWV 825]. For piano. (LPM00889)

Bartók, Béla. The First Term at the Piano. This edition of Bartók’s collection of beginning piano pieces includes a composer biography, historical and pedagogical commentary, and lesson plans on the individual pieces written by pianist, teacher, lecturer, and editor Immanuela Gruenberg. (LPM00878)

Beach, Amy. Two Piano Pieces, op 54. (LPM00888)

The Best Songs Ever: Big-Note Piano. 70 popular songs for voice and easy piano, or piano solo. Includes lyrics and chord symbols. (LPM00890)

Beethoven, Ludwig van. Sonata Pathétique, op. 13. (LPM00879)

Family Tradition Big Print Songbook. Lyrics in large print for a selection of 371 popular Anglo-American ballads and folk songs. Chords are indicated (in small print) through the “ToneWay Music Method.” No standard notation. Includes preface and introduction that explain the ToneWay Method and provide advice for playing by ear and conducting “jam” sessions. (LPM00895)

Handel, George Frideric. Keyboard Suites 2-8, HWV 427-433. (LPM 881-887)

The Library of Piano Classics. Well-loved pieces by composers such as Bach, Chopin, Brahms, and Beethoven. (LPM00891)

Poulenc, Francis. Suite pour Piano. (LPM00880)

The Second Ulverscroft Large Print Song Book. Songbook of popular Anglo-American songs, Christian hymns, and Christmas carols. Notated for piano and voice with lyrics and simple accompaniment. (LPM00893)

Sing and Rejoice: Favorite Hymns in Large Print. “This hymn-book includes familiar ecumenical hymns suitable for worship. The simplified arrangements are set in lower keys for easier unison singing.” –Publisher’s description. Includes four-part hymn on left-hand page (SATB) with text of each verse in large print on facing page. (LPM00892)

The Ulverscroft Large Print Song Book. Lyrics for a selection of popular Anglo-American songs, Christian hymns, and Christmas carols. No music notation. (LPM00894)

The NLS Music Section wishes everyone a happy New Year in 2021!!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *