Concerts from the Library of Congress, 2006-2007 Season

The Coolidge and Whittall Legacies

Image: Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge"As Jefferson shaped the Library of Congress, Mrs. Coolidge's gifts, which were as enlightened in their wisdom a sthey were rich in the material endowments of bricks, mortar, and money, shaped the Music Division--and much of musical life both in America and abroad--as no benefactor has since. Her's is the story of how the vision of one person can become the vision of a great institution."
-- James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress

Inaugurated in October 1925, the Coolidge Auditorium--built with a gift from Mrs. Coolidge (pictured right)--has been the venue for world-class performers and numerous world premieres of Library commissions. Image: Gertrude CLarke WhittallOriginally designed and built for chamber music, the Coolidge Auditorium today reflects the diversity of music in America, featuring artists from a wide range of musical genres from classical music to jazz to musical theater to bebop and rock '’n' roll.

Image: Stradivari instrumentsThe Whittall Strads

In 1935, Gertrude Clarke Whittall (pictured left), well known for the soirées musicales held in her Washington home, donated five Stradivari instruments to the Library (pictured right) with the intention of having them played in free public concerts, not merely displayed behind a case. This season, as in the last, these instruments and later gifts by other benefactors will again be featured in the Stradivari Anniversary and other concerts, giving not only concertgoers the pleasure of hearing these rare instruments, but also young performers the immeasurable thrill of playing them.

Musical Metamorphoses

Western classical music is changing radically from its European roots as a result of the convergences of other traditions and genres. New ways of composing and listening arise, forms and genres morph into shifting shapes. Over the next few seasons Concerts from the Library of Congress, in performances and other presentations, will explore various aspects of musical transformation in an increasingly global society changes.

From the Collections

Image: Czech Nonet on the stage of the Coolidge AuditoriumSeveral concerts will feature works whose autograph scores are in the Library's Special Collections: Mozart's Gran Partita, Schoenberg's Third String Quartet and Ginastera's String Quartet no. 2 (both Coolidge commissions), and Korngold's String Quartet no. 3.

"My plea for modern music is not that we should like it, nor necessarily that we should even understand
it, but that we should exhibit it as a significant human document."    -- Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge    

This season we are presenting the world premiere of a work by Daniel Bernard Roumain commissioned by the McKim Fund in the Library of Congress, the North American premiere of Zemlinsky's recently-discovered Cello Sonata, and the East Coast premieres of Armando Bayolo's Ludi for string octet, Ezequiel Viñao's The Wanderer for a cappella male ensemble, and Virginia-born Tania Gabrielle French's String Quartet no. 3.