History of the Music Division
Article. The first library that Congress established for itself in 1800 was for legislative purposes only and, therefore, contained no music materials whatsoever. With the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's personal library in 1815, however, thirteen books on music theory and literature were added to the congressional library. Once Jefferson's books on music found their way into the collections, music continued to be added, largely...
Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge
Article. It happened one day that Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, as a tourist in Washington, was invited by Dr. Putnam to join a group of the Library's division chiefs for their "roundtable" lunch. As Mrs. Coolidge's contribution to this conversation centered on a recent festival and other musical affairs, she was approached about the possibility of bringing some music to the Library, which was at...
Gertrude Clarke Whittall
Article. Gertrude Clarke Whittall, another musical philanthropist and a contemporary of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge's, expressed her interest in supporting musical activities in the Library in very different, but complementary, ways. Mrs. Whittall preferred to concentrate on the classic tradition. Her generosity began in 1935 when she donated the first of a total of five Stradivari instruments to the Library, each accompanied by a Tourte...
Beyond the Auditorium: Broadcasts and Recordings (LC Concerts)
Article. The oldest chamber music broadcast in the United States originated in the Music Division's Coolidge Auditorium, with the first live, national program on April 24, 1933. Broadcasts were established to Canada and Latin America by the early 1940s, and gradually expanded to other international sites. Weekly broadcasts began with the 1948 concert season and eventually were distributed via satellite to many American cities...
Entering the 21st Century (LC Concerts)
Article. The Music Division continues to observe the classical music traditions that have long been associated with its world-renowned concert series. In cooperation with the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress, the Music Division also presents an eclectic mix of artists from the jazz, folk, world music, and other traditions, making its concert series the most widely diverse in its history.
Folklife Concerts (LC Concerts)
Article. The Library of Congress has a long history of presenting folk music concerts. The first such event was held on December 20, 1940, when Alan Lomax arranged for a Coolidge Auditorium performance of the Golden Gate Quartet, with Josh White on guitar. In another early event, folksong collector Helen Hartness Flanders, wife of Vermont senator Ralph Flanders, presented a lecture and concert of...