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Mahler and Bernstein in the Library of Congress Collections [DRAFT]

Before class preparation/set up

These scripts represent different stages of what Leonard Bernstein presented in a televised Young People’s Concert from 1960 on the music of Mahler. Written changes both within and across the documents show differences between what Bernstein planned to communicate at different times leading up to the broadcast. Differences include minor changes in wording and deletions of entire passages.


  • Students explore corresponding sections of the two scripts in groups and generate a list of differences — both within and across the two scripts — and questions that these differences raise. Each group shares their findings with the class, leading to group discussion on strategies for answering those questions.
  • Search for, locate, and make note of other items relating to Mahler’s music in the Bernstein Collection (or another LOC collection, if they wish).


  • In a blog post, students will use their observations about the item they find as a starting point for raising questions and suggesting avenues for further exploration in the course. This may also include finding a second item and placing it in dialogue with the item they initially find.
  • Throughout the semester, and depending on their specific interests, students will craft a series of blog posts that deal with primary sources, secondary sources, and musical observations. In doing so, they will seek items in digital collections that relate to Mahler’s works, and they are encouraged to use Library of Congress materials where applicable.


Each blog post is evaluated qualitatively by both the instructor. Longer term, students will use their experience with this activity to help in blog posts throughout the semester, in which many students will continue to locate and discuss primary sources.