Come See the “Songs in the Key of L.A” at the Central Library

This Monday, July 1st, an exciting new exhibit from the “Songs in the Key of L.A.” project will be unveiled in the downtown Central Library’s First Floor Galleries. The exhibit will feature a selection of sheet music mined from the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection as part of a recent collaboration between the Los Angeles Public Library and Library Foundation of Los Angeles.

Including 46 pieces from the 1850s through 1950s, the sheet music exhibition offers a unique window into Southern California and Los Angeles music history by highlighting the early history of the city’s music industry, civic music culture, and the role of music in shaping Los Angeles. It also demonstrates the prominent role of Mexican and African American music in Los Angeles.

“From boosterism to beaches, mythic missions to citrus utopias, the rise of the railroad to the rise of Hollywood, this original sheet music cover art reveals a city being shaped in dynamic full color,” said USC Professor Josh Kun, who is the director of “The Popular Music Project” at USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center, and curated the exhibition along with scholar Inna Arzumanova. Working with the librarians in charge of the collection at Central Library, Kun, Arzumanova, and a group of USC students, combed through roughly 50,000 pieces of sheet music collection to create this one-of-a-kind exhibit.

“We are thrilled to shine a light on this fascinating view of Los Angeles history,” said City Librarian John F. Szabo. “Thousands of professional and amateur musicians and music lovers throughout Los Angeles already use our music collection. With this exhibit, we hope to encourage everyone to come and explore the wonderful resources and treasures at the Los Angeles Public Library. We look forward to highlighting the Library’s other special collections and using them in a similar way to tell the story of our great city.”


The exhibit is part of the larger “Songs in the Key of L.A.” project, which during the summer will showcase the sheet music through a comprehensive anthology, new recordings, a free concert with Grand Performances, and an ALOUD program at the Central Library.

“Songs in the Key of L.A.” is on view in the Central Library’s First Floor Galleries and is free and open to the public during library hours: Monday & Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Tuesday & Thursday: 12:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Click here for more information about the exhibit.


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