AMS - Library of Congress Lecture Series
The American Musicological Society and the Music Division of the Library of Congress are pleased to present a series of lectures highlighting musicological research conducted in the Division’s collections.
Open to the public, the series is held in the Library’s famed Coolidge Auditorium in the Jefferson Building.
- Spring 2015: 14 April. Paul Laird (University of Kansas) will present "'A Hint of West Side Story': The Genesis of Bernstein's Chichester Psalms as Seen in the Library of Congress Bernstein Collection"
Paul Laird describes his lecture as follows: “Chichester Psalms (1965), composed by a musician who prized accessibility and tonal structures, is often comparable with common-practice harmonies and resembles the style of Bernstein’s theatrical works. A reason for this appears in the correspondence between the composer and the set’s commissioner, The Reverend Walter Hussey, dean of Chichester Cathedral. Hussey requested that the piece include ‘a hint of West Side Story,’ an invitation that the composer embraced as he assembled and transformed excerpts from his ‘bottom drawer’ and wrote fresh material for Chichester Psalms.
“My lecture describes Bernstein’s 1964-65 sabbatical season from the New York Philharmonic and his compositional process for Chichester Psalms, based on material in the Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress, including correspondence, datebooks, compositional sketches, and scrapbooks. Sources demonstrate Bernstein’s unsuccessful efforts to write a musical based upon Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth with Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jerome Robbins, and those sketches also show how he adapted some of that music for use in Chichester Psalms. Sketches of ideas from the 1940s and 1950s also became part of the work, and written notes illuminate Bernstein’s developing thinking on the composition’s organization. Finally there are musical sketches for the work itself, which include intriguing possibilities that he rejected, as well as the draft of the piano/vocal score and fair copy, along with lyric sheets that provide more unrealized organizational possibilities.”
Paul R. Laird has published books and articles on the life and works of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Schwartz, musical theater, the Spanish villancico, and the Baroque cello. His Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms (2010) is part of the series CMS Sourcebooks on American Music Series and his most recent books include Wicked: A Musical Biography and The Musical Theater of Stephen Schwartz: From Godspell to Wicked and Beyond. With William A. Everett, Laird co-edited the two editions of The Cambridge Companion to the Musical. Laird’s current project, with co-author Hsun Lin, is the second edition of Leonard Bernstein: A Guide to Research.
Call for Lecture Proposals
Follow this link for full instructions if you are interested in participating in the AMS/LC Lecture Series.
Click here for information on previous lectures, including links to the webcasts:
- Fall 2014: Carol Hess, "Copland as Good Neighbor: Cultural Diplomacy in Latin America During World War II"
- Spring 2014: Nancy Newman, "'A program not greatly to their credit': Finding New Perspectives on the Germania Musical Society through the American Memory Sheet Music Collection"
- Fall 2013: Kendra Preston Leonard, "Meaning and Myth in Louise Talma’s First Period Works"
- Spring 2013: Todd Decker, "Making Show Boat: Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, and the Power of Performers"
- Fall 2012: Barbara Heyman, "Samuel Barber: Serendipitous Discoveries"
- Spring 2012: Thomas Brothers, "Louis Armstrong: The Making of a Great Melodist"
- Fall 2011: William Meredith, "What the Autograph Can Tell Us:
Beethoven’s Sonata in E Major, opus 109"
- Winter 2011: Carol J. Oja, "Bernstein Meets Broadway:
Race, the Blues, and On the Town (1944)"
- Fall 2010: W. Anthony Sheppard, "American Musical Modernism and Japan"
- Spring 2010: Steve Swayne, "William Schuman’s Puzzling Seventh Symphony"
- Fall 2009: Walter Frisch, "Arnold Schoenberg's Creative Journey, 1897-1912"
- Spring 2009: Jeffrey Magee, "Now It Can Be Told: The Unknown Irving Berlin"
- Fall 2008: Annegret Fauser, "After Pearl Harbor: Music, War, and the Library of Congress"
- Spring 2008: Judith Tick, "Ruth Crawford Seeger, Modernist Composer in the Folk Revival:
Biography as Music History”