Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Top 250 (and counting)

The Library of Congress has added 25 more titles to its National Recording Registry, a collection of audio recordings it rates as most "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant," bringing the registry up to 250 selections.

Headline new entries are Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album of 1982, the sampler of sounds of Earth launched on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977, the original cast recording of Lerner & Loewe's "my Fair Lady" (1956) and New York Mayor Fiorella La Guardia reading the comics during a 1945 newspaper strike.

The only classical title among the latest selections is Rosa Ponselle's rendition of "Casta diva" from Bellini's "Norma," recorded in 1928-29. Previous classical selections in the registry include George Gershwin's 1924 recording of "Rhapsody in Blue;" Sergei Rachmaninoff playing his Piano Concerto No. 2 with Leopold Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra (1929); Igor Stravinsky conducting the New York Philharmonic in his "Rite of Spring" (1940); Henry Cowell's New Music Quarterly Recordings series, 30 discs of contemporary works recorded between 1934 and 1949; Harry Partch's "U.S. Highball (a Musical Account of a Transcontinental Hobo Trip)" (1946); and Glenn Gould's 1955 recording of Bach's "Goldberg Variations."

Also on the registry: William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech, re-created on a 1921 disc; the radio dramatization of "War of the Worlds" by Orson Welles' Mercury Theater (1938); Kitty Wells' "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" (1952); Chuck Berry's "Roll Over, Beethoven" (1956); Alexander Scourby reading the King James version of The Bible (1966); and Firesign Theatre's "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers" (1970).

The full National Recording Registry can be found here: