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Collection Show Music on Record

About this Collection

The recordings listed come from various commercial sound media, from cylinders to CDs and from the 1890s to 2010, including songs from American shows (and of foreign shows that played in America) as performed by members of original, revival, and studio casts. Included are shows produced for the American stage, screen, and television, as well as foreign musical films that played in America. It also includes records of composers performing their own show songs and selected other recordings of related interest.

Show Music on Record

Print editions of Show Music on Record have been published in 1982 (Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., New York); in 1992 (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington & London); and in 1998 (Self-published, Washington). A previous online database was developed by the Library of Congress in 1999.

The current online database was developed by the Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (Recorded Sound Reference Center) and the Network Development and MARC Standards Office in collaboration with the Public Affairs Office and the Office for Strategic Initiatives. Additional research and editing was contributed by Alan Gevinson.

This database lists recordings that were released through December 2010. Please note that the listings do not reflect Library of Congress holdings.

Which Shows Are Included?

  • Stage Shows
    Any American stage show with songs, whether operetta, book musical, or revue.
    Foreign musical shows that played in the U.S. or were written by American composers.
  • Motion Pictures and Television Programs
    Any American motion picture or television show with musical numbers.
    Film musicals from England, France, and Germany that saw limited release in the U.S.
  • Additional Types of Shows
    College shows, amateur shows, and industrial shows if they are of special interest, such as having well‑known composers or performers.
    "Concept musicals" or productions originally conceived as sound recordings.
    Puppet shows with songs, popular oratorios, pageants, and cantatas, if they are in the tradition of the American musical theater.

Which Shows Are Not Included?

  • Shows that generally are classified as operas.
  • Foreign shows, unless they played in the U.S. or were written by American composers.
  • Foreign television material.
  • Motion picture and television soundtracks that lack songs or have no significant connection with the American musical theater tradition.

Which Albums and Medleys Are Included?

  • In general, any English-language album or vocal medley that contains representative selections from a show's score.

Which Albums and Medleys Are Not Included?

  • Strictly orchestral versions of a show's score.
  • Most jazz and dance-tempo vocal versions of scores.
  • Foreign-language recordings (with a few exceptions).
  • Demonstration records, unless they later had a commercial release.

Which Individual Records Are Included?

  • Individual songs recorded by a cast member, composer, or lyricist from a stage, screen, or television production.

Which Individual Records Are Not Included?

  • Show songs by performers who had nothing to do with a production of the show.

A Few Anomalies

  • Although practically all of the performances listed are songs, a few humorous sketches of special interest are also included.
  • A few original cast recordings produced in limited pressings for promotional purposes have been included, despite the fact that they are not "commercial" recordings.
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