In 1994, President Clinton proclaimed the month of September as Classical Music Month in honor of the “many talented composers, conductors, and musicians who bring classical music to our ears.” Sadly at this time we cannot attend concerts in person, but here are several resources that can bring classical music to our ears (and eyes).
Oral History: Janet Graham Dewing
The local history collection of the Anne T. Kent California Room contains approximately 400 oral histories of notable Marin residents, including Janet Graham Dewing, an internationally famous concert pianist. Dewing describes her experiences as a student at Mills College, and later performing in Europe: “concertizing in Rome, Stockholm, Zurich, Paris, London, all of them again and again.”
RB Digital* provides access to hundreds of popular magazines (current and older issues) that you can read on your computer, phone, or tablet. Among these are a couple of popular titles that focus on classical music (descriptions quoted from websites of each title):
BBC Music – This magazine regularly covers “all aspects of live events, broadcasts and recordings,” and provides “reviews of over 100 new classical releases in every issue.”
Gramophone – includes reviews of “over 100 CDs, DVDs and books in every issue” and offers “a wide range of fascinating, in-depth articles and features on a number of diverse topics” related to classical music.
Streaming Music and Video
(Read more about The Great Courses videos available on Kanopy in one of our earlier blog posts)
Library Catalog – Requesting Materials & Curbside Pickup
Searching for classical music materials in our online catalog can be a little tricky, as there is no unifying subject term like “Classical Music” that will provide a listing of all of the music CDs, books, and other materials related to music. However, you can search by composer, composition title, or composition type.
And if you want a more specific search, you can filter your results by format (Books, Music CDs, or DVDs).
Sign into your account, place holds on items, and once you’ve received email notification that your holds are available, you can arrange for curbside pickup at your local branch!
We can also help you place holds over the phone at 415-473-2272, Monday – Friday from 9 am-6 pm.
On the Web: Race and Classical Music
You may have noticed that people of color are not very well represented in classical music, whether as composers, performers, or conductors.
NPR’s article “Why Is American Classical Music So White?” discusses the historical reasons behind this situation, while producer and radio host Garrett McQueen presents some hard questions in “The Power (and Complicity) of Classical Music” and leaves it up to us to figure out the answers.
In his article “That Sound You’re Hearing is Classical Music’s Long-Overdue Reckoning With Racism“, Washington Post music critic Michael Andor Brodeur reports that:
“Data collected from 500 American orchestras for a 2016 study by the League of American Orchestras paints a starkly white picture when it comes to diversity in classical organizations. Its key finding: the ‘proportion of nonwhite musicians represented in the orchestra workforce — and of African American and Hispanic/Latino musicians in particular — remains extremely low.’ “
We would therefore like to highlight the variety of historical and contemporary contributions to classical music made by Black and Latinx people, as well as some organizations that are addressing bias in the classical music world:
alt.Latino goes Classical Orchestral Music From Latin America – on this episode of NPR’s Alt.Latino, Tom Huizenga offers a concise beginner’s overview of what and whom you should hear in classical music from Latin America.
Black Artists on How to Change Classical Music in the NY Times
League of American Orchestras’ Repertoire by Underrepresented Composers: includes databases that highlight not only Black composers and composers from Latin America and the Caribbean, but also composers marginalized based on gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation
National Alliance for Audition Support: an unprecedented national initiative to increase diversity in American orchestras. It will do so by offering Black and Latinx musicians a customized combination of mentoring, audition preparation, financial support, and audition previews.
Nine Classical Performances of Black pieces of music to celebrate, whether during Black History Month or any other time
Quinteto Latino: a San Francisco Bay Area wind quintet with a mission to build community through Latino Classical Music performance and advocacy
Writing and Research: Tom and Shereen
Formatting and Editing: Ana