Naxos Music Library

Listen to Grammy Award Winners

There were some surprises last night at the Grammy Awards, and you’ll be surprised that some of the award-winners and their recordings can be found at the Snell Library, too! The best new artist of the year, Esperanza Spalding, is featured on a 4-DVD set available at the Snell Library called “Icons Among us: Jazz in the Present Tense.” For pop and r&b artists, we may not have the winning recordings but we do have some CDs and DVDs featuring Jeff Beck, Eminem, John Legend, and Neil Young. Intriguingly, we happen to have a recording by the Nor’easters, Northeastern’s a cappella group, of a Lady Gaga medley. In the classical category, you can find the multi-award winning Metropolis Symphony and Deus Ex Machina by Michael Daugherty (Best Engineered Classical, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Classical Contemporary) streaming online from Naxos. I admit I have my issues with contemporary classical but I really liked Metropolis (which is based on the Superman Comics) a lot; it has great energy and is modern in the best sense, with echoes of Gershwin. Naxos also streams the Parker Quartet’s Ligeti’s String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2 (Best Chamber Music Performance) and P. Jacobs’ organ recording of Messiaen’s Livre du Saint Sacrement (Best Instrumental Soloist). We’ve also got recordings by these award-winners: If watching the Grammy Awards made you want to expand your horizons, scratch that itch at the Snell Library!

RIP Joan Sutherland

We were saddened to hear about the death of the famous Australian soprano Joan Sutherland last week, at the age of 83. She was known for her big voice and mastery of bel canto repertoire. I first heard her by accident, on a recording of the works of Elgar, which I loved for Jacqueline Du Pre’s playing of the Cello Concerto. Anyway, on that same disc, you can hear Sutherland singing Elgar’s “Sea Pictures,” a lovely introspective and quite modern-sounding suite of songs. A biography of Sutherland is available in Grove Music Online, and you can stream recordings of Sutherland singing with Luciano Pavarotti, with Sutherland’s husband Richard Bonynge conducting, in Naxos Music Library online.

Snell Classicism

     Because I’ve had the tune of Ravel’s “Bolero” trapped in my head all day, and because my interest in classical music has been growing steadily over the past two or so years, with the past few months constituting an outburst, I think it’s high time for me to write about Snell Library’s relationship with classical music.     I blogged about our resource Naxos at the end of June; that online library is a classical music fan’s dream come true. But it is just one of the numerous classical music resources in the library, and I am including digital resources and hard-copy resources. What are they called in this case? That’s right. CDs. Except there’s more than just CDs.    Just as an example, let’s take one of the most famous composers of all time, Mozart. In our collections, we have books on Mozart, including Mozart on the Stage, by John A. Rice. This book is a standard historical study of Mozart and his compositions. We also have a book with the bizarre title, Mozart and the Whale: an Asperger’s Love Story, by Jerry and Mary Newport. This is a memoir of two people with Asperger’s syndrome who fell in love, seemingly not having much to do with Mozart at all. But it shows how embedded his name is in our consciousness that his music is now mentioned alongside developmental disorders (and I’ve heard his music is actually believed to improve cognitive functioning).       Moving beyond books, we have movies; In Search of Mozart is one of those documentaries with a rather cliched title that simply narrates the life of Mozart, through interviews with various important people. Another movie called Destination Mozart: A Night at the Opera with Peter Sellars is a documentary about American theater director Peter Sellars’ controversial staging of several Mozart operas. But if you don’t care for non-fiction, if you don’t care for facts, and if you just want to listen to the damn music, then there are the CDs. The alliteratively titled Mozart for Morning Meditation: a Serene Serenade for the Soul sounds like it could be kitschy, but what music written by Mozart could be anything other than highly catchy and polished-sounding? He was the Brian Wilson of classical music. (Or I suppose I should say, Brian Wilson was the Mozart of pop music.)    If you don’t want Mozart, then we have numerous other composers available: there is one CD by the Klinger Quartet in which they play music by Bach, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Schumann and Mozart, amongst others. We’ve got Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Vivaldi, Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, plus more movies and books on classical music and musicians like Shine and Why Classical Music Still Matters by Lawrence Kramer.         Classical music does still matter. It set the template for (virtually) all western music that followed. And although ‘Classical’ is technically a term that only refers to one period of art history, it all seems classical, traditional, rule-abiding to us these days–but if you check out enough of these resources, you’ll realize it doesn’t always sound that way. Even Frank Zappa, when he played “Bolero” on guitar in concert, knew that classical music still did have verve and purpose. And “Bolero” is still stuck in my head.

Interested in listening to music?

While the Library has a number of different academic resources, some can be enjoyed for non-academic reasons too.  I think the Naxos Music Library is a good example of this.  Even out side of music, history and art classes, you can take pleasure in listening to over 85,000 tracks while studying.  As a bonus, it is a resource also available to our alumni users.  You can search by genres such as Classical, Jazz, Pop and Rock, World, and even Relaxation Music.  I think one of my favorites is Ravel’s Bolero.  Try searching and see what you find!