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Great (Musical) Conversations

If you’d like to hear some of the greatest names in music talk about their work and the art of music itself, then this new Web presentation from the Library’s Music Division is for you.

Zubin Mehta, from “Great Conversations in Music.” [Woody Guthrie, half-length portrait, facing front, playing guitar], 1943.

The programs for "Great Conversations in Music" were created and hosted by the late Eugene Istomin (1925-2003), one of the world's most admired classical musicians. The four-part series was commissioned by the Library of Congress in 2001 and produced and directed by Peter Rosen of Peter Rosen Productions Inc. Filmed between December 2001 and March 2003 at the Library of Congress and the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, the television series spotlighted distinguished pianists, string players, composers and conductors, as well as engaging and informative discussions led by Istomin on the state of the art of music.

During his more than six decades as a world-class pianist, Eugene Istomin developed close friendships with nearly all of the great names in classical music; he drew on some of these in the closing years of his life to make this series of programs for the Library. Some of the treasures from the Library's collections sparked lively dialogues among the participants in this series concerning performance practice and pedagogy. The Library of Congress is home to the world's largest repository of music manuscripts and memorabilia, including manuscripts of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Copland and Bloch.

For this Web version of the telecasts, additional footage is provided for the four original programs, and another program, "Chamber Music," is released here for the first time. Additional resources are also provided to enhance and support the programs, including written transcripts with helpful notes, a bibliography, a list of related Web sites, discographies, and biographies of the musicians.
An excellent guide to all the Library’s materials in the performing arts can be found in the new Performing Arts Encyclopedia. You can browse these collections by people or by subjects. You can also access links to the Song of America concert tour site, starring world-renowned baritone Thomas Hampson. Here, you can listen to Hampson’s magnificent voice as he sings such American songs as “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Shenandoah.”

The Performing Arts Reading Room is an extraordinary resource for lovers of music, musicians and anyone with an interest in music and the other performing arts such as theater and dance. More than 30 online presentations in American Memory have materials related to these arts. From the “Leonard Bernstein Collection” and the “Aaron Copland Collection” to “Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier” and “Omaha Indian Music,” there is something for every musical taste.

A. Zubin Mehta, from “Great Conversations in Music.” Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

B. [Woody Guthrie, half-length portrait, facing front, playing guitar], 1943. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-120588 (b&w film copy neg.): Call No.: NYWTS - BIOG--Guthrie, Woody--Radio--Folk Singer <item> [P&P]