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Celebrate Women’s Music History with the Library of Congress!

Over the past couple of years, the NLS Music Section has worked diligently to bring music from the Library of Congress directly to you. We have taken recorded lectures, interviews and concerts produced by our colleagues here at the Library of Congress and formatted them as NLS talking books. Now you can borrow these talking books by mail on a digital cartridge or download them from BARD. Either way, you don’t need to come to Washington, D.C., to experience the Library’s music programs–NLS brings them straight to you!

This week, we continue our celebration of Women’s History Month with programs from the Library of Congress featuring music made by women. You can now enjoy these concerts, interviews, and lectures as NLS talking books. From Broadway to the Basque Country, from Texas to Tbilisi, you’ll discover musical contributions from women around the globe. And you’re sure to learn something new. For example, you’ve likely heard the jazz standard “Take Five” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, but did you know that one of Brubeck’s key collaborators was his wife, Iola, who wrote lyrics for many of his songs and worked as his manager and publicist? Learn more about Iola Brubeck in the interview featured in DBM04292.

Please note that all materials listed below are available to borrow by mail, not only through BARD. Please contact the Music Section to borrow talking books on digital cartridge or to borrow hard copies of braille music. Call us at 1-800-424-8567, ext. 2, or e-mail us at [email protected]

If you are new to BARD, you may find the following links helpful: Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) and BARD Access.

An Introduction to the Music of Clara Schumann (DBM04225): The Library of Congress’s David Plylar discusses the music of Clara Schumann and the ways in which it intersects at times with the music of her husband, Robert. The music selected for discussion includes solo piano, vocal and chamber music.

Diversity and the Birth of Broadway: Early Female Authors of the American Musical (DBM04243): “…an exciting account of the American musical’s early female authors, from vaudeville headliner Nora Bayes to legendary hostess Elsa Maxwell. In the first three decades of the 20th century, amidst the climax of the women’s suffrage movement and the aural revolutions of ragtime and jazz, these often-overlooked female trailblazers–librettists, lyricists, composers–were instrumental in opening doors for future generations and laying the foundation for an American art form.”

Nightcap Conversation with Meredith Monk (DBM04288): The visionary artist Meredith Monk’s groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which there are no words.

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

A Leading Role: A Conversation on Women in the Music World (DBM04290): A panel discussion from 2015 featuring Jane Chu, Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts; Margaret Lioi, CEO of Chamber Music America; and Astrid Schween, cellist with the Juilliard String Quartet.

Women Composers Hiding in Plain Sight (DBM04291): Melissa Wertheimer explores the careers and Library primary sources related to composers Amy Beach, Gena Branscombe, Phyllis Fergus, Ethel Glenn Hier, Mary Turner Salter and Harriet Ware.

Iola Brubeck (DBM04292): A conversation with lyricist Iola Brubeck, wife of famed jazz musician Dave Brubeck. Iola Brubeck (b. Corning, CA, 1923) was a radio broadcaster, actress and journalist who studied at the College of the Pacific and married Dave Brubeck in 1942. She worked as Dave’s manager and publicist, wrote lyrics to many of his songs and collaborated with him on writing “The Real Ambassadors,” a musical theater piece starring Louis Armstrong and Carmen McRae.

Martha Graham Dance Company: Discussion with Pontus Lidberg & Janet Eilber (DBM04269): A discussion with Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg and the Martha Graham Dance Company’s artistic director Janet Eilber. Eilber discusses the long and storied history of the Martha Graham Dance Company and its ongoing relationship with the Library of Congress, which commissioned “Appalachian Spring.”

NOKA Trio: Basque Song and Music from California (DBM04325): NOKA is a trio composed of the daughters and granddaughters of Basque immigrants who grew up together in Chino, California. They are members of the Chino Basque club and were raised speaking and singing in Basque. They specialize in songs about Basque culture, gender, and identity, with a particular interest in songs that use Noka, a familiar form of address historically used in speaking to a girl or woman in whom one had konfiantza or trust.

Las Tesoros de San Antonio: Tejano Singers from San Antonio, Texas (DBM04326): A conversation with two 2019 National Endowment for the Arts Traditional Heritage Fellows, Beatriz “La Paloma del Norte” Llamas and Blanquita “Blanca Rosa” Rodríguez, accompanied by music from Mariachi Esperanza. They are inspired by and connected to many other important Tejana singers, including the great Lydia Mendoza (1982 NEA National Heritage Fellow) and the internationally renowned Eva Garza.

Dianne Reeves Interview (DBM04395): Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves discusses her career and interpretations of Ella Fitzgerald’s music. This interview was filmed in conjunction with Reeves’ concert at the Library, “Dianne Reeves Sings Ella,” a commemoration of Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial. The Library of Congress holds the Ella Fitzgerald Collection.

Maria Schneider on the Creative Process (DBM04403): Jazz artist Maria Schneider discusses her approach to the creative process and her collaboration with David Bowie. Recorded in conjunction with the world premiere of Schneider’s Library of Congress commission “Data Lords.”

Cora Harvey Armstrong Gospel Group: Concert and Conversation (DBM04414): Cora Harvey Armstrong is a gospel singer, piano player, songwriter, choir director and bandleader. In concert, gospel singer Cora Harvey Armstrong is joined by her sisters, her nieces, and her band. This is followed by a guided discussion as Armstrong and her gospel music group discuss their lives and careers as performers and ministers.

Conversation with Ialoni: Women’s Vocal Polyphony (DBM04426): Ialoni was formed in 2009 in Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia, and their repertoire draws from all three branches of traditional Georgian vocal polyphony: ecclesiastical, folk, and city music. The group selects its repertoire from archival records and manuscripts, field recordings, and published transcriptions, with a special emphasis on reviving relatively unusual, original, and complex songs.

#Declassified: Clara Schumann in the Library’s Collections (DBM04427): 2019 marked the 200th birthday of one of history’s greatest piano virtuosas: Clara Schumann. The Library of Congress Music Division’s holdings document not only her performance career but her outstanding contributions to composition as well. Join music reference specialist Cait Miller for a discussion of Schumann’s extraordinary life and career, brought to life by a display of Schumann materials from the Library’s unique collections.

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