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.

Upcoming Lectures



Daniel CallahanDaniel Callahan describes his lecture as follows: “Drawing on unpublished materials in the Library of Congress, oral histories, and films, my lecture explores the physicality of Leonard Bernstein’s onstage conducting, including the role of sexuality from Bernstein’s and his critics’ perspectives. A college sophomore in 1937, Bernstein saw Dimitri Mitropoulos conduct and fell in love. Mitropoulos provided a model of discreet, content homosexuality as well as athletic, leap-filled conducting. Around this time, Bernstein also began to plan a musical on James M. Cain’s hardboiled novel Serenade, about a tenor whose life is destroyed by a powerful gay conductor. Initially worried that his own homosexuality would destroy his career prospects, Bernstein, as he grew in fame and years, became increasingly immune to criticism of his ‘flamboyant’ onstage conducting and offstage conduct. Moreover, Bernstein ultimately understood, and capitalized on, his conducting as a transfer of erotic power and pleasure between a conductor, musicians, and audience.

Countering his critics, I further demonstrate that Bernstein practiced conducting as a deliberate choreography indicative of his musical empathy—not as ‘exhibitionistic’ ‘histrionics.’ Bernstein’s podium movements and expressive affect for scores often remained consistent across decades. The examples I draw on include previously unseen footage of Bernstein’s final conducting appearance in 1990, when, though physically exhausted and less than two months away from his death, he conducted Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony relying on a choreography long stored in his muscle memory. As the musical community celebrates Bernstein’s 100th anniversary in 2018, it might also fully appreciate his conducting as both carefully choreographed and instructively shameless.”

Daniel Callahan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at Boston College. He received his PhD at Columbia University, and was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Music at the University of Chicago. He is currently completing a book, The Dancer from the Music, on the use of music in American modern dance. His article on the intersection of the personal partnership and creative collaboration of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, "The Gay Divorce of Music and Dance," will appear this summer in the Journal of the American Musicological Society.

Call for Lecture Proposals

Follow this link for full instructions if you are interested in participating in the AMS/LC Lecture Series. The next deadline is 16 January 2018 .

Past Lectures

Click here for information on previous lectures, including links to the webcasts:


  • Fall 2017: Randall Goldberg (Youngstown State University), "The Kishineff Massacre and Domestic Musical Practice in America"
  • Spring 2017: Christina Bashford, William Brooks, Gayle Sherwood Magee, Laurie Matheson, and Justin Vickers, "Johnnies, Tommies, and Sammies: Music and the WWI Alliance"
  • Fall 2016: Dominic McHugh, "In the Workshop of Lerner and Loewe: Archival Sources for the Genesis of My Fair Lady"
  • Spring 2016: R. Larry Todd, “Revisiting Mendelssohn’s Octet, or the Maturing of Precocity”
  • Fall 2015: Ryan Raul Bañagale, "The Ongoing Composition of Rhapsody in Blue"
  • Spring 2015: Paul Laird, "'A Hint of West Side Story': The Genesis of Bernstein's Chichester Psalms as Seen in the Library of Congress Bernstein Collection"
  • 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”
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