LC INFORMATION BULLETIN Library of Congress
The Gershwins Come Alive in Symposium by Helen Dalrymple The Library's Music Division celebrated the March 17 opening of the new George and Ira Gershwin Room located across the hall from the Jefferson Building's Coolidge Auditorium with a March 13-16 event that explored "The Gershwins and Their World." With songs, dances, lectures and panel discussions by personal friends of the Gershwins, musicians, performers and scholars of their music, George (1898-1937) and Ira Gershwin (1896-1983) lived again for the participants and audience of some 300 people. In his opening remarks, Jon Newsom, chief of the Music Division, explained how the almost 60-year-long association between the Library of Congress and the Gershwin family began in 1939: "Harold Spivacke, chief of the Music Division from 1937 to 1972, developed a strong friendship with Ira and Leonore [his wife]. Out of the warm personal ties of this friendship we have seen the growth of an institution within the Library that has fostered the building of our collections and the expansion of our public programs in unprecedented ways, consistent with the broad vision of Ira and George. It was during Harold Spivacke's tenure at the Library that many of the great treasures in the Gershwin Collection came to us, and not only from Ira and Leonore, but from other family members, including George's sister, Frances Gershwin Godowsky." The George and Ira Gershwin Room is a permanent exhibition area for materials from the Library's George and Ira Gershwin Collection, which includes George's piano and desk, Ira's typing table and typewriter, self-portrait oil paintings of each brother, as well as music manuscripts and other documents that chronicle the lives and careers of the two brothers. An interactive audio-video kiosk allows visitors to view film footage and additional materials from the Gershwin Collection and hear recordings of Gershwin music.