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Posts from New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center

Power: The American Way

George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, co-authors of some of Broadway’s most enduringly funny comedies, also collaborated on a topical pageant, The American Way, which opened at Broadway’s Center Theater, January 1939.Read More ›

Lincoln Kirstein's Greatest Treasure Hunt and Find

The Monuments Men was one of the top films again last week, bringing to light the incredible true story of the museum professionals (art historians, curators, professors, conservators) who joined the Allied army's Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (MFAA), risking their lives to rescue art from thievery and bombing during World War II.Read More ›

The Most Significant Drum Head in Popular Music, Part 2

Upon taking physical possession of the piece, my mind was set on two objectives. The first was to prove to myself that the drum head really was what it appeared to be. And number two, proving to the collecting world in general that this was, in fact, the Sullivan show drum head. Read More ›

Announcing LIBRETTO!

I am very pleased to announce the first release of Libretto, a prototype open source, ebook reader for reading musicals on Android devices!Read More ›

Vandamm and Machinal

Machinal is back on Broadway. Sophie Treadwell’s best known play is enjoying a successful revival at the Roundabout Theater. Although a journalist, Treadwell used elements of experimental playwriting to show the central character stuck on the machinery that limited the lives of 1920s women. Her choices doom her. Go to see it if you can.Read More ›

Kinokophonography: Discovery of Listening

Below is a guest post by Coryn Smethurst, a composer, film maker, philosopher, sound recordist, and longtime friend of the Kinokophone Collective. Mr. Smethurst is also the Co-founder and Administrator of the Sonic Arts Forum. In this post he shares an experience that changed the way he listens to the world. Read More ›

The Holy Grail of the Percussion World, Part 1

William F. Ludwig himself put it best when he said, “On February 9th, 1964, a new musical event burst from the TV screens across America. The Beatles had arrived, featuring Ringo Starr and his Ludwig Black Oyster drums. Literally overnight everyone wanted a drum set like Ringo’s. The drum boom was born!”Read More ›

Kinokophonography: A Closer Relationship With Listening...

Are you curious about The Library for the Performing Arts upcoming Kinokophonography Night, February 6, 6:30 p.m.? Below is a guest post by renowned sound artist Jez Riley French. Mr. French has submitted a work of recorded sound that is featured on our Kinokophonography Night program. He writes about his motivation, his work, and his process.Read More ›

Focus on Stage Lighting: Faust

This week’s post serves as a caption for the alternative image that the Library’s opening web page has been using when it highlights the Vandamm exhibition, Pioneering Poet of Light. Again, the web editors selected well, since the photograph of Faust illustrates the title so well.Read More ›

Memorial for Jean Léon Destiné at 92nd Street Y

A memorial is being held for Jean Léon Destiné, master Haitian dancer, choreographer and drummer, who passed on January 22, 2013. This will be at the 92nd Street Y on January 24, 2014, during their program Fridays at Noon: The Legacy of Jean-Léon Destiné. Read More ›

Violets and Vandamm

Part of the job of performance documentation was creation of images for the promotional articles, that ran in magazines such as Theatre. The featured play article featured 6 – 8 photographs of stage action laid out like a fashion magazine images cropped into rectangles and ovals connected by 1 sentence plot summaries. The article gives you a taste of the story line while promoting performers. The Vandamm Studio was especially good at preserving moments that convey emotional impact – viewers know that something important just happened.

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Kinokophonography Night at the Library for the Peforming Arts

It was March of this year when I first heard from Amanda Belantera, who had begun her initial search for a New York City home for Kinokophonography Night. Amanda, along with the Kinokophone Collective, has produced Kinokophonography events throughout the UK and in Japan. Kinokophone organized the event as a place for recordists, phonographers, and listeners to gather and share in a night of sounds from all over the world. (Some favorites of the past have included a snail eating a peach, and the juxtaposition of underground 

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Khmer Dance Project Videos Available Online

One of the stunning new collections from the Jerome Robbins Dance Division now available in the Library’s Digital Collections is the Khmer Dance Project (KDP). Funded by a grant from the Anne Hendricks Bass Foundation, the KDP began in 2008 when the Center for Khmer Studies partnered with the Jerome Robbins Dance Division to interview and film the three generations of artists - including dancers, musicians and singers, as well as embroiderers and dressers - who kept dance alive during and in the wake of the Khmer Rouge regime. The New York Public Library offers streaming video of all 

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Finding a Life at The New York Public Library: Emily Dickinson, the Avid Music Collector

December 10th is the birthday of Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), a beloved poet who in her youth was a talented pianist and active music collector. The collections of The New York Public Library serve to illuminate those interests and activities in a variety of ways.

Archives & Special Collections,Amherst College, used with permission.In 1846, Emily Dickinson's second cousin, Olivia Coleman, wrote to Emily from Philadelphia: "We discovered a new Music Store, and I purchased the song 'I'm alone—all alone,' for I am truly alone without 

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Those Mysterious Shadowy Dancers

This post answers a question about the image that the Library’s web page has been using when it highlights the Vandamm exhibition, Pioneering Poet of Light. I was thrilled when the web editors selected it, since it illustrates the title so well. So, here’s an extended caption, with musical accompaniment.

Three’s a Crowd was a revue, presented in the 1930-1931 season. Like The Band Wagon in last week's post, it was choreographed by the brilliantly innovative Albertina Rasch and paired a young Broadway/vaudeville veteran with a European ballet 

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Musical of the Month: Are You With It?

A guest post by Ben West of UnsungMusicalsCo.

The cast of Are You With It? (Photo by The Graphic House)November 1945. The New York Post calls it "a long-awaited musical comedy hit;" Universal purchases the film rights for more than $100,000; and The New York Times urges its readers to "hurry, hurry folks and get your tickets. On second thought, it probably isn't necessary to break a neck: this carnival should be hereabouts for a long time to come."

If you've never heard of this raucous entertainment 

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"What Do You Say Up There?" Shooting the Set from Above

The most recent post looked at Vandamm photographs of dance rehearsals from footholds on the catwalks, ladders and rigging stations of Broadway theaters. This one focuses on their photographs of the stage crew setting up for those rehearsals.

Like all theater photographers, they depended on the crews to set scenes, move furniture and props, and adapt lighting. But, as you can see from the portraits and action shots, the Vandamms esteemed their IATSE colleagues and photographed them with the same respect as the performers. There are portraits of individuals or 

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Review of "Exploring The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records" LIVE at NYPL

The line formed early outside of Edna Barnes Salomon Reading Room as this particular event in the Live from the NYPL series was the hottest ticket in town on a cold fall night. Who would have thought that a round table discussion regarding the collapse of quirky record 

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"Hey Up There" Looking Down on Dancers

“Hey up there”

Broadway precision chorus lines were a staple of musical comedies and revues. A straight line of precision tappers, kickers or steppers could excite the audience in the orchestra, looking slightly up, or balcony, from which they were looking slightly down. But Broadway-trained Hollywood dance directors were giving audiences a multitude of angled points-of-view thanks to cameras and booms.

In the 1930s, the Vandamms went all out to give 

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Time Machine: Concatenations in Time Travel, VHS a cc: to the Future

I am remembering our old purchase order form, a multi copy (ten copies press firmly) missive to Ruth, our beloved curmudgeon in Purchasing (her voicemail began with a sigh). Each copy was fainter and less readable than its predecessor. I am thinking about VHS, a format that succeeded by virtue of its worst quality, the ability to record at a slower speed (up to six hours on a T-120 cassette). What better way for balletomanes to compile every dance performance ever broadcast on two 

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