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Tag: music

A night of music in honor of President and Mrs. Kennedy

The National Archives presents a musical tribute on December 3 in honor of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy’s commitment to the arts, celebrating their legacy of musical performances in the White House.

On November 13, 1961, Pablo Casals performed the Mendelssohn Trio in D minor at the White House.  Kenneth Slowik (cello), James Stern (violin), and Lura Johnson (piano) will present that program on Tuesday, December 3, at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“We wanted to honor the memory of President and Mrs. Kennedy with a special tribute to their outstanding commitment to the performing arts, and our William G. McGowan Theater is a wonderful venue to recreate the historic Pablo Casals performance,” said Susan Clifton, producer for Public Programs at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Following the performance, Kenneth Slowik, Artistic Director of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society, will lead a discussion with Col. John R. Bourgeois, Director Emeritus, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band; Leslie Jones, Curator, White House Historical Association; and Edith Mayo, Curator, Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Pablo Casals, considered one of the greatest cellists of all time, was born in El Vendrell, Catalonia, Spain.  When he was invited to perform at the White House in 1961, he was living in Puerto Rico, where he had begun the annual Casals … [ Read all ]

Plucked from our records: Pasquale Taraffo and the Harp Guitar

 

“Attachments,” the current exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, DC, tells the stories of some of the millions of people who have entered and left the United States.

One visitor, Pasquale Taraffo, came to the United States three times—once for a concert tour of New York City and California in 1928–29, once as a crew member of a ship that docked in New York in 1933, and once for a concert stop in New York in 1935.

Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1887, the musician began giving guitar concerts at age nine. He eventually switched from the traditional guitar to the harp guitar, a 14-string instrument mounted on a pedestal. Taraffo started touring abroad in 1910, performing on his own and with other musicians. Known as “the Paganini of the guitar”—a reference to the legendary Italian violinist—he was wildly popular around the world and especially in South America.

When he came to the United States, he applied for a visa based on artistic abilities, and probably had to submit evidence of his exceptional talent in order to enter the country. Photo postcards of Taraffo with his harp guitar, along with a handbill for his 1926 concert in Corregio, Italy, were found, but these documents were separated from any of his other documents, mixed into what appears to be a dead letter file. It … [ Read all ]