Recollections of the Music Scene
Yesterday & Today -- Clara Schumann to Ray Charles
An Exhibition of Posters, Autographs, Sheet Music Covers, Broadway Souvenirs, and Super Memorabilia
March 21 - May 21, 2005
Third Floor Gallery
Curated by William J. Dane
Well over one hundred carefully selected and choice mementoes of the history of Music from The Special Collections Division of The Newark Public Library are included in a topical exhibit at The Library from March 21st through May 21st, 2005. the show includes gala posters, autographed letters, song sheets from Broadway and Hollywood musicals of note, original signed prints, Pop-Up books along with other visually fascinating records of the music scene of yesterday and today.
Among the highly colorful posters is the famous work by Marc Chagall to celebrate the opening of the brand new and much anticipated Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in September of 1966. The dancing figures depicted on the poster in brilliant hues were printed in Paris by the renowned lithographic firm of Mourlot. Another notable poster is by famed French designer, Erte, who was born in Russia and produced the most elegant sets and costumes for the Folies Bergeres in Paris for several decades beginning in the 1930s. Other featured posters are by Hans Erni of Lucerne, Switzerland and from a series of opera posters for the Metropolitan Opera works by David Hockney, Paul Wunderlich, Antoni Clave, and Larry Rivers.
Autographed letters from noted musicians of earlier times are shown in an 1843 letter from Mendelssohn in Leipsig, Germany dated from January, 1843 when he thanks the author of a gift book on the construction of organs. Verdi’s letter from Paris in 1848 thanks a friend who sent an account of a production of Verdi’s "Jerusalem" to whom he also sends along a cordial handshake. Wagner’s letter from Zurich in 1856 reveals an ornamental penmanship and he gives permission for the use of his score to "Lohengrin" or any part thereof.
Tribute to a few of the great super stars of music in contemporary times include Madonna, Elton John and nostalgic news photos of earlier years in the life of Elvis Presley with his wife, Priscilla and their only daughter. The legendary American jazz and popular song singer, Ella Fitzgerald, is featured in the Library’s exhibit along with posters and print notices relating to the outstanding career of W.C. Handy. The huge success of the 2004 feature Hollywood film "Ray" is noted plus quotations from the singer’s autobiography relating to dramatic events of his sometimes tragic and sometimes triumphant life. Facts about the life of Joan Chandos Baez and Liberace round out a salute to the amazing careers of two highly popular American musical talents.
More than a score of great popular songs are shown in their original sheet music format. These include huge hits from Broadway and Hollywood musicals which became standards for vocal and instrumentalists around the world. Some of the composers were Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Herman Hupfeld from Montclair and Newark’s own, Jerome Kern. Nineteenth century sheet music covers were often adorned with color lithographs reflecting strong echoes of the Civil War years (1861-1865) and an idealistic, somewhat poetic slant to the romantic songs with deeply nostalgic overtones in their lyrics and melodies.
A few featured items reflecting the field of classical music are a large poster from Germany celebrating the compositions and piano wizardry of Clara Schumann along with a still from the MGM 1947 feature film "Song of Love" in which a radiant Katharine Hepburn has the role of Clara Schumann. Arthur Rubinstein played the piano music which was actually recorded for the film in production. There is also an early program dated March 12, 1949 for Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra in New York. This orchestra was the conductor’s main instrument during the last 17 years of his career when his televised concerts were enthusiastically watched on the new medium by millions of music enthusiasts. This display also notes the musical career of Alice Tully and her most generous philanthropic gift to The Lincoln Center complex for performances. Signed books and autographed items by American composer and influential music critic, Virgil Thomson, are shown. The composer who worked with Gertrude Stein on an opera, lived for many years in Manhattan’s Hotel Chelsea. Vintage photographs of Leontyne Price, world famed operatic soprano, recall the glorious career of this beloved musician who early on won a scholarship to the Julliard School in New York City. No salute to 20th century popular music would be complete without recognizing our native sons, Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen who are remembered with photos and souvenir programs of memorable performances.
A selection of original, signed prints with music related iconography were selected and represent works by Adolf Konrad, Doel Reed, Reika Iwami, Bob Mackie (Diana Ross), Bernard Childs, and from a portfolio entitled "Symphony", signed works by New Jersey artists, Joan Needbam, Helen Schwartz, Marie Sturken, and Ann Gross. The recently opened Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum designed by I.M. Pei on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio is covered plus the opening-day program for the 6,000 seat Radio City Music Hall which is still the nation’s greatest showcase for contemporary popular music.
The exhibition is entitled "Visual Recollections of The Music Scene" and is at The Newark Public Library, 5 Washington Street. The project was curated by William J. Dane long-time Keeper of prints & Posters at The Library and is open during regular Library hours. For additional information, please call 973-733-7745.
©2005 The Newark Public Library