A large wall photo at a Philadelphia exhibition shows Leonard Bernstein during one of the most poignant days of his life – a day in 1948 when he conducted a concert with a small group of Holocaust survivors in Germany. The picture and the story behind the moment are part of the Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History. The presentation marks what would have been Bernstein’s 100th birthday in August 2018.
Each year when the annual celebration of our nation’s birth approaches, patriotic music becomes more prevalent in our daily lives. These songs paint a picture of our nation through their spirited melodies and inspiring lyrics. This Independence Day, Pepper has compiled some of our blogs about our national anthem, the “March King,” and other patriotic sheet music, along with interviews with some of the masters of military music.
Emmy-winning classical composer Julie Giroux says she didn’t know about any women composers when she was studying music, and when she first entered the field she didn’t meet any, either. Unfortunately, she is not alone in this experience. It’s only in the last few decades that women composers have begun to be recognized in some of the music industry’s top areas.
Quietly, in places ranging from convents to conservatories to farms, extraordinary women have written innovative music without the benefit of fame. Historical archives hint at the challenges they have faced. Critics called composer Ethel Smyth a “little woman” with “utterly unfeminine” works, and Florence Price echoed the concerns of other minority women when she penned in a famous letter: “To begin with I have two handicaps – those of sex and race.”
Nothing rouses the spirit like a march, and few bands can capture the patriotic fervor of an American march like the United States Marine Band. Affectionately known as “The President’s Own,” the Marine Band was founded in 1798 by an Act of Congress signed by President John Adams and is the longest performing musical organization in the nation. For over 200 years, the Marine Band has been led by legendary American musicians like John Philip Sousa. One of these renowned directors, Colonel John Bourgeois (Ret.), sat down with Pepper to discuss his time with the Marine Band and how its work has impacted American culture both at home and in the eyes of the world.
The harpsichord holds an important place in music history. Its unique sound is instantly recognizable, flavoring the works of countless composers from the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods. The historic harpsichord at Mount Vernon is of special interest to John Watson, Curator Emeritus of Musical Instruments for Colonial Williamsburg. It’s an instrument modern ears have had no way to hear… until now.
Great music tells a great story. Be it the story of a moment, the story of a feeling, or the story of a generation, music delivers the message in ways that mere words cannot. The ability to print sheet music spread these stories to people around the world. One of the earliest purveyors of printed music was the company C.F. Peters; in fact, the company was so closely linked to the spread of sheet music that the story of C.F. Peters is, truly, the story of printed music.
Throughout the year, Pepper has been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first jazz recording by sharing interviews with modern jazz legends, descriptions of historic sites, and a blog series about the impact of jazz on our national history. If you haven’t yet, please check out the excellent resources we have shared so far.
Among the great 20th century composers, Leonard Bernstein stands out as having impacted perhaps the widest range of musical styles. His works can be heard in concert halls, musical theater venues, on the silver screen, and in places of worship.
Throughout 2017, Pepper has joined the musical world in celebrating 100 years of recorded jazz. An integral part of our national history, jazz music is ingrained in the American DNA, leaving its mark on our culture in a way that few other art forms ever have.