The Music Division of the Library of Congress and the American Musicological Society, in joint partnership, will present the third in a series of lectures highlighting musicological research conducted in the division’s collections.
Jeffrey Magee presents “Now It Can Be Told: The Unknown Irving Berlin” on Thursday, March 26, at 7 p.m.
in the Coolidge Auditorium, ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. This event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.
After Jerome Kern famously pronounced that “Irving Berlin is American music” in 1925, Berlin continued for several decades more to define many of America’s most distinctive musical idioms, from Tin Pan Alley to Broadway to Hollywood. Berlin’s death 20 years ago at the age of 101 accelerated an ever-expanding cottage industry of commentary, reflection and scholarship on a legendary figure.
In an effort to amplify patterns in Berlin’s stage and screen career, the talk will aim to draw connections among unknown (or little-known) materials—including songs, scripts, “plot treatments,” and other notable documents—and Berlin’s better-known work.
Magee is an associate professor and chair of musicology at the School of Music in the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of “The Uncrowned King of Swing: Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz” (Oxford, 2005), which won the Irving Lowens Award for Best Book in American Music from the Society for American Music, as well as an award for excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. He is now writing a book about Irving Berlin, which has been supported as a “We the People Project” of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Before joining the Illinois faculty, he taught at Indiana University (1997-2006), and served as executive editor of the score series “Music of the United States of America” (1993-97). He has been an editorial board member for American Music, the Journal of Musicology, Jazz Perspectives and the Center for Black Music Research, and is co-editor of the book series “Profiles in Popular Music” for Indiana University Press.
Previous lecturers in the series have included Annegret Fausher discussing 19th- and 20th-century French music and Judith Tick speaking on Ruth Crawford Seeger. Both programs are available as Library webcasts at www.loc.gov/webcasts/
The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, is the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s Web site www.loc.gov
and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at myLOC.gov
In 1992, Irving Berlin’s daughters presented his papers to the Library. In addition, the institution’s unparalleled music holdings include manuscripts of European masters such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms and those of American masters such as Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein and Charles Mingus. The Alan Lomax collection of field recordings of American roots music, Woody Guthrie’s original recordings and manuscripts, and one-of-a-kind recordings of bluesman Robert Johnson from the 1930s are also among the Library’s musical treasures. More information can be found at www.loc.gov/performingarts/