Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The 'New' Library Of Congress Concert Programming Highlights Continuing American Music Theater Creativity

"It isn't often that the Library of Congress books a rock band. The emphatic pulse of drum and electric guitar filled the august institution Monday night, though, as it celebrated the induction into its archives of "Rent" composer Jonathan Larson's papers.

Larson, who died of an aortic aneurysm in 1996 at age 35-- days before the premiere of his landmark rock opera -- is the first of a younger cadre of Broadway songwriters to have his manuscripts, letters and other materials preserved at the library alongside those of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter and Leonard Bernstein. Library officials say that scholars already are inquiring about access to Larson's collection.

"It's a surprisingly rich collection for someone who died so young," said Mark Eden Horowitz, the senior music specialist who spearheaded the library's efforts to acquire Larson's papers, which consist of about 3,800 items. "I've never seen anyone who wrote down his thoughts as much as he did. There's just so much of the person there, what he was thinking and feeling about things."

The library's musical commemoration was an exuberant retrospective that featured a half-dozen Broadway singers -- including "Rent" original cast members Anthony Rapp and Gwen Stewart -- performing Larson's pop-inflected compositions from both his well-known and unproduced shows.

A large, particularly fascinating portion of the evening was devoted to songs that were either cut from "Rent" or completely overhauled before the show's off-Broadway opening in January 1996 at the New York Theatre Workshop. (It moved later that year to Broadway, where it won a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize.) ...

At the end of the evening, the Washington-based gospel group the Ministers of Music joined the actors onstage for the signature Larson anthem, "Seasons of Love." Not only were the papers of a singular American talent there, but the spirit was, too."

Peter Marks "'Rent' Creator Gets His Due: Jonathan Larson's Papers Join Library of Congress Archives" Washington Post October 25, 2006


Concerts from the Library of Congress

Library of Congress Foundations for Music

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Béla Bartók Concerto for Orchestra. List of timings, and first page of the autograph full orchestral score. Completed in 1943, and later revised in 1945, the Concerto was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation. It was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Koussevitzky on December 1, 1944. The Concerto is one of the early commissions by the Foundation; part of a series of distinguished works from twentieth-century composers. (Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation Collection) (London, New York, Boosey & Hawkes, 1946)

Photo credit: Library of Congress. With thanks.


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