Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Musikey is a bi-monthly periodical that serves as a catalog of sheet music in print. Because sheet music comes in and out of print very quickly, this publication is an indispensable resource for music stores and for libraries with extensive sheet collections like the San Francisco Public Library. We use Musikey to help us build our score and sheet music collection and to help us answer reference questions. It allows us to better search the song anthologies already in our collections, or to make referrals to other libraries and to music stores.

Musi*key Songs indexes all popular songs that are currently in print in the United States and provides a list of song anthologies that include each song. It additionally gives the songbook's price, publisher, as well as its instrumentation or arrangement--for instance for piano and voice, fakebook, easy piano, guitar tablature, etc.

Musi*key Books details all of the song anthologies currently in print, listing their contents, format (arrangement), publisher and price. It also includes an index by arrangement, i.e., by instrumentation or level of ability. There is also an index by "Personality" that lists the collections by the name of the performing artist.

We have also recently begun subscribing to a quarterly publication, Musikey Instrumental. This periodical indexes classical music sheet music that is currently in print by composer, title, and by instrumentation.

Musikey is one of a multitude of reference resources that we use to help library patron's track down sheet music. Please consult Searching for Songs at the San Francisco Public Library for more information and guidance.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cornelius Cardew Choir

The Art, Music & Recreation Center is pleased to welcome the Cornelius Cardew Choir in performance in the Koret Auditorium at 2:00 PM on Sunday, May 17, 2009. They will perform a program that includes works by Pauline Oliveros, Sam Richards, Sarah Rose Stiles and others. This performance is free and open to the public.

The Cornelius Cardew Choir sings at the intersection of experimental music and inclusive community. Their stated goal is to "turn thought into sonic action"; they use music collaboration as a space for dialogue and learning. Members of the Choir are both professional and amateur, trained and untrained.

The Choir takes its name from the British avant-garde composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981). Cardew's work aimed at finding a common ground between aesthetic experimentation and political engagement.

The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (available to San Francisco Public Library card holders through the Oxford Music Online database) has a biographical article on Cornelius Cardew. For those interested in sampling Cardew's music the Library owns the recording We Sing For The Future! (New Albion, p2001). The UbuWeb website also contains many recordings and other information about Cardew.

The Library has the following scores in its collection:

Four Works [Autumn '60 for orchestra; Material, for any ensemble of harmony instruments; Solo with accompaniment; Memories of you for piano solo]. (Universal Edition, 1967).

Scratch Music
. (MIT Press, 1974).

Three Winter Potatoes for piano. (Universal Edition, 1966).

[A chance composition for unspecified instrument or instruments]. (Gallery Upstairs Press, 1967).

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn

Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington’s long-time arranger and collaborator, lived in the shadow of the bandleader, but contributed many compositions that became signature songs for Ellington. Billy Strayhorn grew up in a hardscrabble section of Pittsburgh. At a very early age, he showed an affinity for music – though not able to read yet, he learned the tunes to all the records a neighbor owned and could find any song when someone requested it. Using money from working at a newsstand and doing deliveries for a pharmacy, Strayhorn purchased a piano and started taking music lessons. Before he graduated from high school Strayhorn had composed pieces that his music teachers mistakenly thought had been written by classical composers.

After high school he began playing with musicians at clubs and at parties expanding his repertoire to include jazz numbers. Strayhorn played for Ellington when the bandleader came to Pittsburgh in 1938. Ellington was so impressed that he offered Strayhorn a position: “I would like to have you in my organization.” Their artistic collaboration started soon after that. In 1939 Strayhorn moved to New York to work for Ellington. The song that he composed as a gift for the bandleader and their inaugural collaboration used the directions for getting to Ellington’s apartment as the lyrics. Strayhorn had so completely replicated the Ellington style that many in the orchestra thought that Ellington wrote it and “Take the A Train” became the signature song for the bandleader.

In New York, Strayhorn found a cosmopolitan world that suited his wide-ranging interest in music , and the other arts. Before the end of the first year Strayhorn moved in with Aaron Bridgers, a fellow musician, living out of the closet during a homophobic time. As a minority within another minority he later forged a friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr. whom he’d met through his circle of friends. Though his contributions to Ellington’s catalog, and to other projects with the bandleader cannot be overstated, compensation and credit did not always follow.

The Art, Music and Recreation Center will present the display “A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn” through June 19, 2009 on the 4th floor of the Main Library.

This display has been mounted in conjunction with “The Billy Strayhorn Session, In Tribute to Musical Genius and Political Change" a lecture and performance held on Saturday, May 16, 2009 in the Koret Auditorium. This program is both a concert performed by the 19-piece Junius Courtney Big Band and a staged dramatic reading featuring Denise Perrier. “The Billy Strayhorn Session,” presented by the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center and the African American Center of the San Francisco Public Library, is presented in a partnership with The Museum of the African Diaspora who are also are hosting the exhibit "Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African-American Portraits” through June 14.

All events at the San Francisco Public Library are free. “The Billy Strayhorn Session” is supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Related books:

Lush Life: A Biography Of Billy Strayhorn by David Hajdu. (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1996).

Something To Live For: The Music Of Billy Strayhorn by Walter van de Leur. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Related scores:

Lush Life: The Billy Strayhorn Songbook. (Amsco Publications, 1997).

Billy Strayhorn: An American Master / piano, vocal, guitar. (Cherry Lane, 2001).

Take The "A" Train: 1941 / transcribed by Brent Wallarab, edited by Gunther Schuller. (Smithsonian Institution, 1993).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mendelssohn for Mother's Day

The Afiara String Quartet will perform a program of works by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 2:00 in the Koret Auditorium of the Main Library.

The all-Canadian Afiara String Quartet is the Morrison Fellowship Quartet-in-Residence at San Francisco State University's International Center for the Arts, where they serve as teaching assistants to their mentors, the Alexander String Quartet. The members of the quartet are Valerie Li, violin, Yuri Cho, violin, David Samuel, viola, and Adrian Fung, cello.

The Afiara String Quartet takes its name from the Spanish fiar, meaning "to trust." They consider chamber music to be a conversation between friends involving a relationship of trust, both in rehearsal and on stage.

Their program will consist of Mendelssohn's String Quartet #4 in e minor (op. 44, no. 2) and String Quartet #6 in f minor (op. 80). This concert is presented by Classical Revolution and a grant from the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music.

All library programs are free and open to the public.