Contact: Gary Fitzpatrick (202) 707-8542, Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

October 14, 1993

Library of Congress Receives Collections of Leonard Bernstein

WASHINGTON, D. C. The Librarian of Congress, Dr. James H. Billington, announced today that the estate of Leonard Bernstein has given to the Library his personal and professional archives in order to launch an initiative to develop an electronic archives of music materials that can be shared with users everywhere.

In announcing the gift, Dr. Billington called Leonard Bernstein "a preeminent composer, educator, conductor, and performer whose archives are a treasure for the American people." He noted that "the Library of Congress is taking a leading role in the information revolution and we hope to join with other institutions, archives, and private partners to share this treasure electronically. We are committed to creating a `library without walls' that would allow free and unrestricted access to these and other rich collections in the Library's custody."

Beginning with demonstration projects using the Bernstein materials, the Library of Congress will produce the core of a new electronic, multimedia archives. Over time these archives can expand, depending on available resources, linking up with multimedia collections in related areas as they develop across the country and around the world.

Nina Bernstein, who spoke on behalf of the family, said: "My father would be thrilled to be joining his archives with those of so many of his colleagues, teachers, and friends. He would be particularly excited by the educational possibilities that digital formatting will bring to this material. My father was driven by a passion for sharing ideas, and it is in that spirit that we are launching this ambitious project. We offer the Leonard Bernstein archives as a catalyst for developing other digital archives across the globe. We look forward to a real collaboration between the Library of Congress and other research institutions. Together, they can build a shared archival network that will enrich the minds of people everywhere."

A panel of six individuals who were associated with Leonard Bernstein during his career discussed his life and work at the November 8 news conference announcing the Library's receipt of the Bernstein archives. Moderated by Schuyler Chapin, long-time friend and associate of Bernstein and one of the three trustees of his estate, the panel also included his daughter, Nina Bernstein, describing the digital archives project; Dr. James W. Pruett, chief of the Library of Congress Music Division, discussing the Library's role; Lauren Bacall, recalling Bernstein's qualities as a humanitarian and friend; Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, commenting on Bernstein's conducting work; Dr. Scott Massey, President and Executive Director of the Nashville Institute for the Arts, describing Bernstein's significance as an educator; and Dr. Kristina Woolsey, Distinguished Scientist for Apple Computer, Inc., commenting on the technical aspects of making archives widely available in electronic form.

film and video programs and 1,000 hours of recorded sound. The collection also comprises unpublished musical sketches and lyrics, lecture manuscripts, programs, business records, photographs, and personal papers including correspondence with major figures in the world of arts and letters. These materials will join others that Bernstein donated to the Library during his lifetime. The combined manuscript collection includes such Bernstein works as "On the Town, "West Side Story", "Candide," his three symphonies, and hundreds of other compositions.

The Library of Congress music collections are particularly strong in the papers and manuscripts of 20th century composers and musicians. Leonard Bernstein's mentor, Serge Koussevitsky, established a permanent endowment at the Library in 1950 to continue the commissioning and programming of new musical compositions begun by the original Koussevitzky Foundation; the personal papers of Koussevitzky were bequeathed to the Library in 1978. Other major creative artists of the 20th century whose manuscripts are in the Library of Congress include Bartok, Berg, Berlin, Copland, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and George and Ira Gershwin.

The Library of Congress began collecting Leonard Bernstein's music manuscripts in 1953, including the piano score of "Fancy Free," early drafts of songs from "Wonderful Town," and the score for Serenade for Violin and String Orchestra with Percussion, commissioned in 1951 by the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress. The Library also has more than 100 of his pressbooks as well as correspondence with Aaron Copland, Serge Koussevitzky, and others.

The Library will work with the Bernstein family foundation, Springate, to convert significant portions of the collection to a digital format for the widest possible availability. This electronic archives will serve as a model for a larger multimedia project that will ultimately include a wide range of related materials from the Library's collections and from those of other institutions participating in the Bernstein project. As private sector partners are found to support this project, the Library will begin a long-range effort to organize and disseminate these and other creative works in digital form to the public.

The Bernstein archives will be housed in the Music and Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound divisions of the Library of Congress. Following processing and conservation, the materials will be available for research in the Library's Performing Arts Reading Room in the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E. Hours of the reading room are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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PR 93-130
10/28/93
ISSN 0731-3527

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