200 Years of Songs from the Lester Levy Sheet Music Collection

March 15 – July 31, 2022
Exhibit Gallery, The George Peabody Library

Admission is free.

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This exhibition highlights over one hundred popular songs and instrumental compositions drawn from Johns Hopkins University’s renowned collection of 19th and early 20th century sheet music. Together the works on view provide unique insights into the evolution of American popular culture, from the Great American Song Book and Harlem Renaissance, to Baltimore music publishers and national movements for suffrage, emancipation, and labor. Highlights include a manuscript claiming to be penned by Edgar Allan Poe, songs autographed by Ira Gershwin and Amelia Earhart, sheet music from Baltimore’s First Lady of Jazz, Ethel Ennis, and a collection of songs lithographed by Hoen & Co, a Baltimore printing company whose building still stands in Harbor East. Also on view are correspondence from the Lester Levy papers and objects related to sheet music production.

exhibition poster

Related Events

Virtual Exhibition Opening Livestream

Tuesday, March 22, 12:00 – 1:00pm ET

Join Sam Bessen, Eleanor and Lester Levy Family Curator of Sheet Music and Popular Culture at the Sheridan Libraries, for a livestream introduction of Grace Notes in American History: 200 Years of Songs from the Lester Levy Sheet Music Collection, a special exhibition on view at the George Peabody Library from March 15 through July 31, 2022. This opening celebration will include performances by soprano Teresa Ferrara of songs featured in the exhibition by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and more.

Presented with Hopkins at Home

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Curator’s Gallery Tours

Exhibit Gallery, George Peabody Library

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Support for these events is made possible by the Friends of the Johns Hopkins University Libraries.