A 1958 recording of Van Cliburn performing Tchaikovskys Piano Concerto No. 1 and Ornette Coleman's 1959 debut The Shape of Jazz to Come are among 25 new additions to The National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, the Library announced today.
"Twenty-three-year-old Texas piano prodigy Van Cliburn won the prestigious Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow in April 1958, charming a critical but rapt Russian audience with his performance of Tchaikovskys Piano Concerto No. 1 in the finals," the Library says of Fort Worth's Cliburn, in a variation of words that have been repeated often since the pianist died last month. "Time magazine noted that his competition appearance and subsequent concert tour of the Soviet Union, broadcast over radio and television, 'has had more favorable impact on more Russians than any U.S. export of word or deed since World War II.' Composer Aram Khachaturian stated, 'you find a virtuoso like this only once or twice in a century.' Although Cliburn later recorded the concerto for an RCA Victor commercial release that enjoyed immense popularity, the archival recordings from the finals of the competition convey the sense of Cold War history in the making."
Of The Shape of Jazz to Come, the Library says: "On his debut album for Atlantic Records, Ornette Coleman pushed the boundaries of jazz even further into the unknown than he had on his earlier efforts for Contemporary Records. Critic Ralph J. Gleason observed that 'the musical and critical world [was] split neatly in two' by Colemans willingness to abandon bebops harmonic structure and timing when his music required it. What Coleman never abandoned was the centrality of improvisation to jazz. In this effort he is ably assisted by Don Cherry on cornet, Charlie Haden on bass and Billy Higgins on drumsall musicians with whom he had played intermittently for several years. Cherry and Coleman achieve a close interaction on several tracks, particularly in their speedy unison playing at the beginning of Eventually and Congeniality. Haden not only accompanies the other musicians, but also stretches the melodic potential of his instrument, particularly in his solo on Focus on Sanity. For all the records iconoclasm, it swings and even Colemans more outrageous timbral experimentation can be understood as rooted in the expressiveness of the blues."
The National Recording Registry is designed to reflect the diversity and creativity of the American experience, and the eclectic list of songs, albums, spoken-word recordings and radio broadcasts -- including Bacons, Beans and Limousines by another artist with Fort Worth connections, Will Rogers -- are certainly diverse, with albums as massively popular as Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack among the new additions, along with recordings by jazz master Artie Shaw, bluesman Junior Wells, opera singer Leontyne Price, polka king Frank Yankovic and others and others.
For a complete list of the new additions, go here.