February 25, 1997 Library of Congress Names Music Division Chief
Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
Jon W. Newsom, a 30-year Library of Congress veteran who has been serving as acting chief of the Music Division since January 1995, was recently named chief of the division.
Mr. Newsom, who also served as acting chief from 1985 to 1987, began his career at the Library in the Music Division in October 1966 as a music reference librarian. He also worked as a music acquisition librarian before his promotion in 1974 to head of the Reference Section. In 1978, he was promoted to assistant chief, a position he held for almost 19 years, until he was named chief Dec. 22.
In announcing Mr. Newsom's appointment, Associate Librarian for Library Services Winston Tabb said, "In each position in the Music Division, Jon has demonstrated in-depth knowledge of the division's subject matter -- including music, dance, and theater -- a strong commitment to the Library and the division, and a talent for both developing the collections and bringing them to life through performances and broadcasts."
Formally established at the Library nearly 100 years ago, the Music Division has more than 6 million items in its collections, including extensive holdings of American music, jazz, opera scores and librettos, American musical theater, chamber music and Western European music. Among the hundreds of collections in the division are manuscripts and original materials from Bernstein, Brahms, Copland, George and Ira Gershwin, Koussevitzky, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Paganini, Richard Rodgers and John Philip Sousa. The division also holds two significant musical instrument collections -- the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection and the Gertrude Clarke Whittall collection of five Stradivari instruments.
The Music Division operates the Performing Arts Reading Room located in the Library's Madison Building. With the aid of gift funds, the division commissions new compositions and sponsors a number of nationally broadcast concerts each year. With the re-opening of the Coolidge Auditorium in October 1997, the Music Division will resume a full season of events, including programs on the Whittall Stradivari intruments by the resident Juilliard String Quartet, films with live musical accompaniment, premieres of newly commissioned works, dance programs and lectures.
Jon Newsom, a native of New York City, earned an A.B. in music from Columbia College in New York City in 1963, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. In 1965, he earned a master's degree in fine arts in musicology from Princeton University, where he was a Woodrow Wilson fellow. After receiving his M.F.A., Mr. Newsom worked as a teaching assistant at Princeton University while completing the coursework for a Ph.D., before coming to the Library in 1966 as a reference librarian.
One of Jon Newsom's latest projects was overseeing a Library jazz festival held last June at the Lincoln Theater in Washington and supported by the Ira and Leonore Gershwin fund. Those concerts featured big band music composed and directed by Buddy Collette, Gerald Wilson and Benny Carter.
Mr. Newsom received an award from the Society for the Preservation of Film Music in 1994 for his "outstanding work in documenting and preserving film music," something he has done since the mid-1970s.
Mr. Newsom has written about jazz; 19th century German music; and American film, band and popular music. Two of his articles, one on music for animated films and another on the work of Hollywood film composer David Raksin, together with two recordings of unpublished soundtracks, were published in a book and record set by the Library, Wonderful Inventions: Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound at the Library of Congress, in 1985. His articles have been published in Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Music & Letters, and American Music. He has served as editor of the Musical Quarterly and Music Library Association Notes.
During Mr. Newsom's most recent watch as acting chief, the Library acquired the archives of both Gerry Mulligan and Ella Fitzgerald, two of the most important figures in the history of jazz, as well as William P. Gottlieb's complete archive of photographs of the leading jazz musicians of the era, taken between 1930 and 1948.
Mr. Newsom also was instrumental in acquiring the Moldenhauer Archives in 1988, with 3,500 pieces from Gregorian chant to modern times, the largest single gift of manuscripts to the Music Division. He is the general editor of a book about this archive, an inventory and a series of essays to be published by the Library this year.
He is a founding member of the Society for the Preservation of Film Music and an active member and former officer of both the American Musicological Society and the Music Library Association.