Why Amy Beach Matters

Musicologist and Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandies University, Liane Curtis will present a talk with recorded music examples entitled, “Why Amy Beach Matters” at The Central Library on Wednesday, November 14 from 1 to 2 PM. in the Rundel Auditorium, 3rd Floor, Rundel Memorial Building located at 115 South Avenue in Rochester.

Amy Beach, ca. 1885 Photo courtesy the Boston Public Library

Amy Beach (1867-1944) was praised by many as an important American composer, but after her death, her music fell into obscurity. Her music, and in particular, her Piano Concerto (1900) are considered by way of evaluating her place in music history. In the Concerto, Beach draws upon four of her own songs to provide thematic material.

Following Beach’s biographer, A.F. Block, Curtis examines whether meanings from those songs were infused into the concerto. This practice of reuse is also considered in light of Beach’s borrowing in a range of her compositions. Finally, consideration of Beach’s gender was so much a part of the critical response to her music that the role of gender politics must be considered when evaluating her legacy.

This presentation is in anticipation of The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Beach’s Concerto on November 15 and 17, with Saet-Byeol Kim, piano and Arild Remmereit, conductor. Attendees are welcome to bring their own lunch to this event. Free of charge and open to all. For more information call the Arts & Music Division at 585-428-8140.

John Cage: Composer, Artist, Zen Buddhist

Kay Larson’s Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism and the Inner Life of Artists explores the composer’s spiritual journey and philosophical transformation that effected his life, music, art, and writing. Caught in a society that rejected his music, his politics, and his sexual orientation, composer John Cage was transformed by Zen from an overlooked and somewhat marginal musician into the absolute epicenter of the avant garde. “Where the Heart Beats” highlights one of America’s most enduringly important artists.

To examine Cage’s earlier spiritual and philosophical influences try Begin Again by Kenneth Silverman which draws on interviews with John Cage’s contemporaries and friends and on the entire archive of his letters and writings, and including photographs and facsimiles of musical scores, Silverman gives a revelatory portrait of one of the most important cultural figures of the 20th century.

4’33”is one of Cage’s most famous, or some might say infamous, works. The piece, written for piano, consists of four minutes and 33 seconds of “assumed” silence. Cage’s controversial piece became the iconic statement of the meaning of silence in art and is a landmark work of American music.

In No such thing as silence :John Cage’s 4’33”, Kyle Gann, one of the nation’s leading music critics, explains4’33”as a unique moment in American culture and musical composition. Finding resemblances and resonances of4’33”in artworks as wide-ranging as the paintings of the Hudson River School and the music of John Lennon and Yoko Ono,he provides much-needed cultural context for this fundamentally challenging and often misunderstood piece. Gann also explores Cage’s craft, describing in illuminating detail the musical, philosophical, and even environmental influences that informed this groundbreaking piece of music. Having performed4’33”himself and as a composer in his own right, Gann offers the reader both an expert’s analysis and a highly personal interpretation of Cage’s most divisive work.

Carolyn Brown, ,a major dancer in the Cunningham Dance company, explores Cunningham’s technique, choreography, and experimentation with compositional procedures influenced by Cage. And she probes the personalities of these two men: the reticent, moody, often secretive Cunningham, and the effusive, fun-loving, enthusiastic Cage. Chance and Circumstance is an intimate chronicle of a crucial era in modern dance, and a revelation of the intersection of the worlds of art, music, dance, and theater that is Merce Cunningham’s extraordinary hallmark.

The Arts Division and the Monroe County Library System also have several of John Cage’s recordings.

Goodbye to Doc Watson 1923 – 2012

Awe-inspiring guitarist, Grammy award winning folksinger, and treasured American performer Arthel “Doc” Watson passed away on May 29, 2012 at age 89.

The blind, flat-picking guitar player inspired many country, bluegrass, and folk musicians with his technical ability, gentle nature and authentic voice.  Doc will be missed, but his music is timeless.

Click on the link to watch a video of a Doc Watson performance of “Tennessee Stud”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5c1k949Zn4

The Central Library owns several Doc Watson CDs.  Click on the image to connect to our holdings information.

Sittin’ Here Pickin’ the Blues

Ballads from Deep Gap

New Year – New Music!

Did you know that the Rochester Public Library is a great resource for new recorded music releases from today’s most popular artists? The Arts Division has  a ton of new CDs. All you need is a library card! Here’s what’s new:

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds


Raymond v Raymond
by Usher


Cole World: The Sideline Story
by J. Cole


Pink Friday
by Nicki Minaj


Now that’s what I call music 40
Various Artists


Carl Thomas


Audio, Video, Disco


People and Things
Jack’s Mannequin


Chapter V: Underrated
Syleena Johnson


Jennifer Lopez


Til the morning
Keith Sweat


Million Dollar Quartet
Original Broadway Cast Recording


The Best of Rascal Flatts: Live
Rascal Flatts


Lauren Alaina


Cuban Rhapsody
Jane Bunnett & Hilario Duran


Jen Shyu & Mark Dresser

Voices Raised! New Vocal, Choral and Opera CDs

The Metropolitan Opera premiere production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, which opened the 2011-12 Met season on September 26, and continues through October (two performances in February of 2012) stars Anna Netrebkoin in the title role.  Perennial favorites will be featured throughout this season’s offerings at The Met, more Donizetti (La Fille du Regiment and L’Elisir d’Amore) as well as Gounod’s Faust, Don Giovanni by Mozart and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly to name a few. For those craving a more contemporary opera, Philip Glass’ unforgettable opera Satyagraha which reprises Richard Croft’s role as Ghandi.

For those of us that aren’t able to attend a live opera performance there are free alternatives right here at your local library! The Central Library Arts Division has a large selection of opera, solo vocal music and choral music sound recordings. We’ve added a few new titles and introduced some new talent to our vast collection. Here are a few to look for:

Up-and-coming soprano Camilla Nylund performs her first album of opera arias by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss on Transfiguration. Nylund is accompanied by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra.

The all-female trio Juice Vocal Ensemble reminds us that innovations can still be accomplished in the world of classical avant garde music. Songspin showcases the amazing vocalizations of the groups members:  Kerry Andrew, Anna Snow and Sarah Dacey. We guarantee you have never heard anything like this!

Who is Nico Muhly?? At a mere 30 years of age, this young musician has composed choral and orchestral works, film scores, operatic and chamber music and is currently working on a new piano quintuple concerto commissioned by the Five Browns. As a choirboy in his youth, Muhly became addicted to the textures and harmonies of choral music from the 16th century to the present. His works reflect his passion and drive and we are the thrilled to have three of his albums in our collection – A Good Understanding, I Drink the Air Before Me and Mothertongue. Have a listen (can you hear the reference to Rochester?):

And finally, back to opera. We have added Kepler by Philip Glass. The Los Angeles Times calls Glass’ opera “his most chromatic, complex, psychological score.” Based on the life of scientist Johannes Kepler, this work is a musical homage to the man’s triumphs as well as his flaws as a human being.

Bastianello by John Musto and Lucrezia by William Bolcom share billing on a new CD that features the two one-act chamber operas, scored for five singers and two pianists. Bastianello/Lucrezia was commissioned and is performed by the New York Festival of Song. These two comic operas explore the themes of love, marriage and parenthood.

And finally, yet another promising young star in the world of opera, Julia Lezhneva, performs works by Gioachino Rossini. At just 19, Lezhneva received the independent Russian ‘Triumph’ award for her contribution to culture and art. Opera Today says, “…the disc offers much to enjoy, the possible future greatness of Ms. Lezhneva remains a case of “time will tell.”


Hoping to find some new tunes at the library?  We’ve got lots of hot new music CDs at the Central Library!

New Pop and Rock Title

Wake Up! by John Legend & the Roots
Lungs by Florence & the Machine
Weekend at Burnie’s by Curren$y
Universal Pulse by 311
Director’s Cut by Kate Bush
Damnesia by Alkaline Trio
Twisted Wires by Tesla
Join Us by They might Be Giants
Screaming Bloody Murder by Sum 41
Codes & Keys by Death Cab for Cutie
Whatever’s on your mind by Gomez
The light of the sun by Jill Scott
I am the dance commander + I command you to dance the remix album by Ke$ha
Gold cobra by Limp Bizkit

New Movie and TV Soundtracks

Treme Music from the HBO Original Series Season 1
Cars 2 Original Soundtrack
Faster Music from the Motion Picture
Rise of the Planet of the Apes  Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Jig Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Transformers Dark of the Moon The Album
Sucker Punch Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Wedding music of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

If you are interested in listening to the music from the royal wedding you can find many of the pieces at the Central Library in the Arts Division.

A selection of organ pieces was played before the service. Two outstanding pieces were, Fantasia in G (Pièce d’orgue à 5) by Johann Sebastian Bach and Veni Creator Spiritus by the Master of The Queen’s Music, composed by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

Following the services were some orchestral pieces. Serenade for Strings in E minor Op. 20 (Allegro piacevole, Larghetto and Allegretto) by Edward Elgar was the first piece followed by Fantasia on Greensleeves by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Also heard was Farewell to Stromness by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring by Frederick Delius, Touch Her Soft Lips and Part from Henry V Suite by William Walton, Romance for String Orchestra Op. 11 by Gerald Finzi. and Rhosymedre. The Couple specifically chose Farewell to Stromness, Touch Her Soft Lips and Part and Romance for String Orchestra Op. 11 as they were played at the Service of Prayer and Dedication for The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2005.   Last piece played before the Service began was Canzona from Organ Sonata in C minor by Percy Whitlock. 

Prince William and Miss Middleton chose three of their favorite hymns for the Service,  Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer’, words by William Williams, music by John Hughes; Love Divine All Love Excelling, words by Charles Wesley and music by William Penfro Rowlands;  ‘Jerusalem’, hymn by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry with words by William Blake.

One of the last pieces played was Blest pair of Sirens with words by John Milton from At a Solemn Musick, and music by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry.

An additional piece was composed for the recessional and is not available yet. This piece was Fanfare by the Fanfare Team from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. The Fanfare, called Valiant and Brave, is by Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs, Principal Director of Music in the Royal Air Force.

Royal Wedding: The Official Album

Recorded Music Demystified

Many patrons (and even some staff) have a difficult time trying to decipher the system used to organize Central Library’s recorded music collection. The ANSCR (Alpha-Numeric System for Classification of Recordings) system is used to organize our collection of music compact discs, cassettes and LPs instead of the Dewey decimal classification system. In the Library catalog, the call number for these formats is a series of letters and numbers in four groups. Each group is called a “term.”

What an ANSCR call number looks like:

For Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles

On the computer: [CD] MA BEAT SPL B 28

On the label of the item:

MA (Pop)
BEAT (Beatles)
SPL (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely)
B 28 (Beatles 28)

Explanation of the four terms:

Term 1: Letter or letters representing one of the ANSCR categories for a type of music.
Term 2: The first four consecutive letters of the composer’s surname, performer’s surname, author’s surname, title, or topic
Term3: Initial letters of the first three significant words of the title, or the first three consecutive letters of a one-word title
Term 4: First letter of the performer’s surname followed by the last two digits of the recording company’s production number

For more information on the ANSCR Classification System for sound recording click on the link below or ask a knowledgeable staff person in the Arts Division, we are always happy to help you!