Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Birthday of Note for Flute Players

Happy 250th birthday, Francois Devinne!

Devienne was born on January 31, 1759 (Joinville, Haute-Marne, France). The French flute style traces its origins to Devienne, a professor at the Paris Conservatoire from 1795 and author of Methode de Flute, first published in Paris that same year. Devienne was a flutist and bassoonist, and a prolific composer of music for wind instruments. Unfortunately, Devienne died in 1803 in the insane asylum at Charenton.

For you flutists, the Polley Music Library has parts for some flute sonatas, duets and trios. Check them out.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Air and Simple Gifts

Nearly a week has gone by since the inauguration of President Obama and the flaps about the inaugural music. It's time for a short recap.

The centerpiece of the inaugural music was Air and Simple Gifts, composed and arranged by John Williams for a quartet of violin, cello, clarinet and piano. That unusual instrumentation just happens to be the same as was used by Messiaen in his Quartet for the End of Time. The performers were Itzhak Perlman (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Gabriela Montero (piano), and Anthony McGill (clarinet) -- a group of fabulous musicians. The music heard over the loudspeakers and broadcast was actually from a recording made by the quartet two days earlier. The musicians were wearing earpieces to be able to coordinate with the recording in the frigid cold. They also had their music in front of them, although the cameras did not generally catch that. For the record, the chief librarian of the US Marine Band had the pleasure (and responsibility) of affixing their music so it would not blow away. Did they actually play? Reports vary, with some who were there being sure that they did, and some that they only mimed. Reception of the piece by critics was also varied. Simple Gifts is a Shaker tune that was featured prominently by Aaron Copland in Appalachian Spring, as well as being set by Copland as one of his Old American Songs. Williams' Air and Simple Gifts is surely Americana, fit for the inauguration.

Aretha Franklin, afterwards, was very unhappy with how she sang in the cold. Her piece was America (My Country 'tis of Thee).

The US Marine Band did play live, complete with frozen tuba valves that the musicians worked diligently to get unfrozen in time to play their parts. Barack Obama's arrival was heralded with Hail, America! (written by George Drumm, and arranged by Thomas Clark). Hail to the Chief was performed immediately after President Obama's oath. The US Marine Band has posted a list of what it played.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hail to the New Chief

In a few hours, Barack Obama will take the oath of office and become the 44th president of the United States of America. On a musical note, the inaugural ceremonies feature plenty of music, including selections from the US Marine Band, the San Francisco Boys Chorus and San Francisco Girls Chorus, Aretha Franklin, the national anthem performed by the US Navy Band Sea Chanters, and a new work by John Williams performed by Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero and Anthony McGill. Then there will be the parade, with lots of marching bands.

Later in the day, President Obama may first hear Hail to the Chief, the piece of music most closely tied to the office of President. It's been around a long time and has an interesting history. The original text is from Sir Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake just like Schubert's Ave Maria (though with a Goethe translation). These days Hail to the Chief is usually played by a military band without any singers.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Public Music Library in Budapest

Budapest's public library, the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library, has a very large music collection located in the Palffy Palace across the street from the main library. A lovely fenced garden with a statue of Bartok enhances the facility. The building is beautiful, but the music library faces the challenges of providing modern music library service in the historic structure.

The music collection focuses on classical music, jazz and folk music. Popular music, especially on compact disc, is located in the popular materials collections of the public library. The music collection contains a huge number of scores, as well as periodicals, music books, and audio and video recordings.

As with most libraries, the librarians are working hard to increase patronage. To this end, they offer concerts -- many in the music library itself, with a few in the main library. To make space for the performers and concertgoers, the librarians move book shelves and tables, and voila, a concert space is created. My first thought on seeing the garden was what a perfect place it would be for a guitarist to perform on a summer evening.

I had a wonderful visit at the music library and with the music librarians. In Budapest and in Lincoln we share many of the same library issues; we're all working hard to turn challenges into opportunities and to ensure that our music users will have access to the collections and information they and you need.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy new year

The Polley Music Library wishes all musicians and music lovers a very happy new year.With the new year, you can expect more web 2.0 applications from the Polley Music Library, more new music materials for you (Polley's customers) to use, and continued answers to your music questions asked in person, by phone, by mail, or by e-mail. And, more digitiation of Polley's unique materials, time allowing.Thank you for your patronage.