Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940, Jill Brett (202) 707-2905

June 11, 1993

Library of Congress Acquires Charles Mingus Collection

The Library of Congress has acquired the papers of American composer Charles Mingus, the most important acquisition of a manuscript collection relating to jazz in the Library's history.

The Mingus Collection consists of original music manuscripts, arranger's scores, instrumental parts, tape recordings, photographs, literary manuscripts and other memorabilia documenting the career of bassist Charles Mingus as performer, composer, and writer. The scores and parts, as well as many of the recordings, represent both a working library of performing materials and a unique collection documenting Mingus's working methods.

The collection was purchased from Sue Graham Mingus, the widow of Charles Mingus, who has taken an active role in perpetuating performance of, and interest in, her late husband's music. Her choice of the Library of Congress as the repository for the collection is part of that effort.

In announcing the acquisition of the Mingus Collection at a press conference at the Library of Congress on Tuesday, June 1, Winston Tabb, Associate Librarian for Collections Services, said: "It is the Library's intention to promote the music of Mingus not simply by acting as the conservators of the paper, tapes, photographs, and other wonderful materials which make up the collection; rather, we intend to promote the Mingus creative legacy by performances, recordings, lectures, and publications so that his art can be better and more fully and even more appropriately appreciated by the public we serve."

The music of Charles Mingus was celebrated with a concert by the Mingus Big Band sponsored by the Library on Friday, June 4. The 14-member repertory orchestra, featuring some of the finest jazz musicians performing today, played a program of all Mingus music before an overflow crowd. The concert will be produced as a special one-hour radio program in the "Concerts from the Library of Congress" series, which is distributed nationwide by the American Public Radio Network. The uplink date is June 21, 1993.

Charles Mingus is considered to be one of America's greatest composers among such innovators as Charles Ives, George Gershwin, and Duke Ellington. Born in Nogales, Arizona, on April 22, 1922, Mingus was the child of a family that included African-American, English, Chinese, Swedish, and possibly Scottish parentage. From his first known compositions (ca. 1939) to his last, Mingus drew on his own rich cultural heritage and created a body of work that contributes to the definition of American music.

Like Ives, Gershwin, and Ellington, Mingus developed an immediately recognizable style by demanding a performance practice specific to his music. As a composer, Mingus recognized all styles of music as a resource and integrated improvising soloists into the fabric of his compositions.

Researchers and scholars will be able to use the collection, once it is fully processed, in the Performing Arts Reading Room of the Library of Congress Music Division and the Recorded Sound Reference Center, part of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

# # #

PR 93-081
6/11/93
ISSN 0731-3527

Back to top