Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
February 8, 1995
Library of Congress Exhibition on Frank Loesser Opens At Kennedy Center Performing Arts Library
Sheet music covers, programs, playbills, posters and music manuscripts illustrating the evolution of the musical career of Frank Loesser are on display in the exhibition "Frank Loesser: Trying and Succeeding," now on view in the Performing Arts Library on the Roof Terrace Level of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The approximately 30 items, all drawn from the collections of the Music Division of the Library of Congress, have been assembled in conjunction with the current revival of Loesser's most successful musical show, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," which is playing at the Kennedy Center from Jan. 28 through Feb. 26.
The exhibition in the Performing Arts Library will remain on view through May 27; hours are noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Frank Loesser's musical career got off to a rather uncertain start in the 1930s, due to his lack of a college degree and any formal musical training. Before long, however, he found success as a lyricist in Hollywood, and by the mid-1940s he was a successful composer as well. He ultimately wrote the scores for six Broadway musicals, beginning with the 1948 hit "Where's Charley?" He followed that with an even bigger success, "Guys and Dolls" (1950), and then composed his most operatic and richest score for "The Most Happy Fella" (1956). His 1960 musical "Greenwillow" was not a success, but his last musical to make it to Broadway, "How to Succeed..." was one of the few musicals ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. It also won a Tony Award and the New York Drama Critics Award and ran for more than three years and 1,417 performances. Loesser's last show, "Pleasures and Palaces" (1965), closed before making it to New York.
Loesser's illness and untimely death in 1969 at the age of 59 ended his output but not his legacy. "How to Succeed..." is the third of his musicals to have a Broadway revival in recent years, and some of the songs from his shows have become legends in their own right.
The Performing Arts Library at the Kennedy Center has been operating under a revised agreement between the Library of Congress and the Center since Oct. 1, 1994. It was opened originally in March 1979 as a joint project of the two institutions to provide an arts-related reference facility in the Kennedy Center as well as a window on the much larger collections of performing arts materials housed at the Library of Congress. During its 15 years of operation, the Performing Arts Library has served thousands of visiting performers, researchers and patrons of the Kennedy Center.
The new mission broadens the scope of the Performing Arts Library facility to emphasize educational opportunities in the performing arts, including exhibitions, workshops, lectures, electronic dissemination of information and educational performances. A basic reference collection for use by staff and visitors and a general collection of books in music, dance and theater will be maintained in the Performing Arts Library by the Library of Congress, which is now staffed by Kennedy Center staff and volunteers who serve as archival assistants, reading room monitors, and guides. For in-depth research assistance, readers can access the automated bibliographic databases of the Library of Congress or obtain reference help over the telephone and via fax machine from LC specialists.
"Frank Loesser: Trying and Succeeding" is the first exhibition created by the Library of Congress under the terms of the new joint agreement to enhance and illuminate selected Kennedy Center concerts and events.
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