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

Van Cliburn, 1934-2013

Piano pedagogue Rosina Lhevinne with her student, Van CliburnMany of us were saddened to hear of the passing of Van Cliburn on Wednesday, February 27. A pianist who excelled in music of the romantic repertoire, Cliburn rocketed to fame when he won the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, held in Moscow in 1958 at the height of the cold war. Upon his return, he was not just a 

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Musical of the Month: Make Mine Manhattan

A guest post by UnsungMusicalsCo director, Ben West

The CompanyPhotograph © Dixie Sheridan Currently in its fifth year, UnsungMusicalsCo. (UMC) is a not-for-profit production company that I founded with the aim of researching, restoring and presenting obscure but artistically sound works from the Golden Age of musical theatre. It should be noted upfront that I am perhaps more liberal than most in my definition of the Golden Age, by which I mean those 40 glorious years between the Follies: Mr. Florenz Ziegfeld's in 1931 and Mr. Stephen 

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Homage to Jean Léon Destiné

Jean Léon Destiné, master Haitian dancer, choreographer and drummer, died on January 22, 2013. The staff members of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division mourn his passing. And as the Dance Division Curator, I will truly miss him. He was also a great friend of the Dance Division. During his long career as advocate and artist for Haitian dance he donated materials to the 

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Dance on Fire: Spring Programs at the Library for the Performing Arts

The Dance Division is ON FIRE this spring with programs and exhibitions featuring dance from around the world, all at the Library for the Performing Arts! An exhibit on flamenco, 100 Years of Flamenco in New York, will open on March 12 in the Vincent Astor Gallery, and another on Cambodian ballet, Memory Preserved: Glass Plate Photographs of the Royal Cambodian Dancers, will open on March 28 in the Plaza Corridor Gallery. Be sure to visit to check those 

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New Mendelssohn Discoveries in the Music Division

Felix Mendelssohn's signature from Drexel 4903It is still possible to discover amazing things in the New York Public Library in 2013, its 108th year of existence. What's even more amazing about this story is that the discovered items have been with the Library since its founding and have gone unnoticed until now. I am happy to write this story in anticipation of February 3, 2013, the 203rd birthday of composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

Part of my work in the Music Division involves cataloging scores — not newly published materials, but a portion of the over 

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Musical of the Month: Night Boat

A guest post by Levi Branson

Ernest Torrence and the chorus (Theater Photo File B)

By 1920 Jerome Kern had achieved success as a noteworthy American composer with a uniquely American career. His melodies graced many entertainment platforms, but he was most prominently represented on the musical stage. His early composing career included scores for the successful Princess Theatre musicals as well as song interpolations into others' musicals. In 1919 a Charles Dillingham production paired him with a songwriter and librettist who would become a frequent collaborator in the 

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Recording the Life of a Dancer

An oral history interview is a lot more than just any old conversation or sound recording. Although the definition of oral history is dynamic, it usually refers to the collecting of individual histories, according to specific ethical and methodological guidelines, and the responsible preservation and archiving of those recordings. While human history has been collected and shared orally for thousands of years, oral history as a modern organized activity is said to date only to 1948 when Allan Nevins began the now highly respected

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RHA Cylinder Collection Exhibit

The Collection and Exhibit

The Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound at the New York Library for the Performing Arts currently houses a collection of more than 3,000 wax and celluloid cylinders. These cylinders range from very early, non-commercial, white and brown wax cylinders, to commercial moulded black wax cylinders, to Indestructible moulded celluloid cylinders and, finally, to the later Edison Blue Amberol celluloid cylinders.

The collection is 

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Historic Presidential Speeches in the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound

In honor of President Obama's upcoming inauguration, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound would like to present a compilation of historic presidential speeches selected from our collections.

The list consists of commercial and archival recordings which contain campaign, election, inaugural, resignation, congressional speeches, radio broadcasts, and various other important presidential profiles which address historic and cultural milestones in American 

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Metamorphosis of a Song: “What Do the Simple Folk Do?”

I've blogged before about my joy in finding something I never knew existed in the richly varied archival holdings of the New York Public Library, but while processing the James Barton Papers, I had an epiphany of another color: finding something I've wanted to get my hands on for nearly twenty years.

Bear with me while I set the scene for this discovery with some personal history. It would be an understatement to say that I'm a fan of lyricist and librettist Alan Jay Lerner.

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A Cold Night's Death: The Allure of Scandinavian Crime Fiction

Maybe you've got the Nordic noir bug from reading Stieg Larsson's Millennium series (we've all seen those ubiquitous neon paperbacks on the subway) or were enthralled earlier by Peter Høeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow or the Detective Wallander series of books. However you encounter them, Scandicrime writers such as Henning Mankell, Larsson, or Jo Nesbø are like a good bag of chips, it's hard not to have another. This is a selective guide to some notable authors and detective series from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and even some Nordic noir from Iceland, and what's better, a guide to

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Happy Public Domain Day, 2013!

No copyright!

Our markets, our democracy, our science, our traditions of free speech, and our art all depend more heavily on a Public Domain of freely available material than they do on the informational material that is covered by property rights. The Public Domain is not some gummy residue left behind when all the good stuff has been covered by property law. The Public Domain is the place we quarry the building blocks of our culture. It is, in fact, the majority of our culture. —James Boyle, The Public Domain, p.40f, 2008, quoted on the ... Read More ›

Musical of the Month: Sally

A guest post by Maya Cantu

Marilyn Miller in "Sally" "America at the close of the Great War was a Cinderella magically clothed in the most stunning dress at the ball... immense gains with no visible price tag seemed to be the American destiny," as historian Ann Douglas has noted. In the expansively optimistic and prosperous America of 1920, there could hardly have been a musical — or heroine — more suited to its times than Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton's Sally, a Jazz Age Cinderella story clothed in opulent enchantment.

At the dawn of the 

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One Week More! The Once and Future Les Miserables

I dreamed a dream in time gone by that someday I would be sitting in a cinema watching the film version of Les Misérables. In 1993 I had recently convinced my mother to take me to a touring production that had settled for a week in St. Louis (an event that is, in large part, the reason I am now sitting in this office in Lincoln Center).

After seeing the show, I ran home and connected my Commodore 128 to a mostly image and ad-free Internet to comb the various repositories of text files to find anything I could about the history and future of a movie version of 

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Works Created with the Help of the Music Division, 2011-2012

I'm happy to present a review of how the Music Division contributed to knowledge for 2011-2012. Although my information is based on the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, December seems like an appropriate time to post this information.

Today the pervasiveness of the Internet leads some to question the usefulness of libraries. Many try to determine a library's effectiveness by attendance: Surely 50 users in one day is better than 5? (I recall an article from library school that questioned whether it is worth collecting a book if it is consulted only once in 50 

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"It's Great! But Why is it Here?" Musical Revue Research Guide, Part 2

In the Research Guide, Part I, I advised that the easiest way to find information at LPA is by name or title. I advised that the research can benefit by compiling a list of every person in or involved in a production and serendipity can come your way. That third dancer from the left can become a star and/or obsessive collector or just happen to have the right piece of information in a clipping file. Sometimes, however, you can do your research prep and be looking in a 

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Soul Music Tracks from the Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson Collection: "I Want You" and "Musical Massage"

I listen to many interesting things in my job, and I love it. As an AV cataloger at NYPL (Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound), I have listened to many archival recordings at the library for the past 8 years. Some of my highlights:

    Sound effects tapes from plays in the New York Shakespeare Festival collection Choral 
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Interviews with the Rich and Famous: The Brant Mewborn Interview Collection

The Brant Mewborn collection of interviews was recently processed, preserved, and cataloged.  This collection is a treasure trove of original interviews — conducted by Mewborn for his background research for various Rolling Stone articles, and for freelance pieces — with personalities of the 1970s and 1980s.

Brant Mewborn (1951-1990), a staff reporter and chief editor at Rolling Stone, conducted numerous interviews during this period 

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Collection Therapy: Hospice Series

My professional adventures are rooted in my own fascination with and questions about who we are as humans (how we identify ourselves, how we are layers of each version of our selves over time, how we become trapped in our elderly bodies, how we relate, how we die, how we cope, how we mourn). These questions have been constantly honed in my work — asked and answered over and over within the context of audio/visual materials. I hopped from grant to grant to build new programs for years, describing, preserving and providing access to artworks, dance, oral histories, home movies, and 

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Announcing the Dorothy Loudon Exhibition

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is pleased to announce the release of the Dorothy Loudon Digital Exhibition.

Dorothy Loudon (1925-2003) was a Tony Award-winning Broadway star, cabaret singer, and television performer. She is best remembered for her performance as Miss Hannigan in the original Broadway cast of Annie and for the playing the leading role of Bea Asher in the 1978 musical Ballroom.

This online exhibit, funded by a generous grant from the

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