The Music Division in the Library of Congress has acquired archival materials from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Foundation, the not-for-profit arm of the world’s largest performing-rights organization, representing more than 275,000 creators. To mark the occasion, a special concert was held on May 5 in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium. (See story on page 108.)
The ASCAP Collection has been established to preserve the history and to create a repository for video and audio materials, photos, scores, documents and artifacts relevant to the rich history of the institution of ASCAP and ASCAP members as contributors to American culture.
The gift of these materials reunites much of it with many of the special collections given to the Music Division over the years by individual ASCAP members, including Victor Herbert, Leonard Bernstein, Irving Caesar, George and Ira Gershwin, Vernon Duke and Aaron Copland.
“Our shared interest is preserving the product of creativity, talent and craft, as well as the history and biography of its creators,” said Susan H. Vita, chief of the Music Division. “The ASCAP archives also preserve a history of innovation—literally, the business of show and music, and the visionary and entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes so much of America’s history.”
Materials already received include music manuscripts, printed music, lyrics (both published and unpublished), correspondence and other personal, business, legal and financial documents, scrapbooks, and film, video and sound recordings. Large, complete archives already received include those of ASCAP founding member Irving Caesar—writer of such memorable songs as “Swanee,” “Tea For Two,” and “Just A Gigolo”—and Harold Adamson, lyricist of “Around the World in 80 Days, “I Couldn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night,” “An Affair to Remember” and the “I Love Lucy” theme.
Other items of particular interest include the original ASCAP cash book, showing dues paid by the original members and the cash expenditures of the organization from 1914–1919, and the scrapbooks of ASCAP President Stanley Adams documenting each year of his presidency (1953–1956; 1959–1979).
Materials will continue to arrive indefinitely, and those already received are currently being prepared for researchers, who are encouraged to submit their requests to the Music Division through the “Ask A Librarian” service at www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/ask-perform.html. Requests for materials should be made in advance of visits to the Performing Arts Reading Room, as ASCAP materials are currently stored offsite.
Established in 1914, ASCAP is the first U.S. Performing Rights Organization (PRO), representing the world’s largest repertory of more than 8.5 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 350,000 songwriter, composer and music-publisher members. ASCAP has representation arrangements with similar foreign organizations so that the ASCAP repertory is represented in nearly every country around the world where copyright law exists. ASCAP protects the rights of its members and foreign affiliates by licensing the public performances of their copyrighted works and distributing royalties based upon surveyed performances. ASCAP is the only American PRO owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. For more information, visit www.ascap.com .
The Library’s unparalleled music holdings include manuscripts, scores, sound recordings, books, libretti, music-related periodicals and microforms, copyright deposits and musical instruments. Manuscripts of note include those of American masters and ASCAP members John Philip Sousa, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and Morton Gould. The Alan Lomax collection of field recordings of American roots music, Woody Guthrie’s original recordings and manuscripts, and one-of-a-kind recordings of bluesman Robert Johnson from the 1930s are also among the Library’s musical treasures. Many of these collections are available at www.loc.gov/performingarts/encyclopedia/.