Blogs: Arts

As we celebrate the life of former Oregon Symphony director James DePreist, let’s note that in addition to all his incredible work with orchestras around the world, and a 2005 National Medal of Arts, he also wrote two books of poetry!

William Stafford contributed the afterword to DePreist’s first book, This Precipice Garden (1986). He describes DePreist’s confident presence as conductor, and compares this with the voice of the poems: “When he turns to the different rhythm of his poems, it is as if James DePreist puts that hovering attention to a parallel task; again the inner light finds which way to go amid infinite, shifting possibilities. Here, however, there is a record in language of the course taken. The reader can follow in slow motion and see how the self proceeds along a tangled path.”

Maya Angelou writes of DePreist, in her foreword to his book The Distant Siren (1989), “There is obviously poetry in the orchestral conducting of James DePreist and audible musicality in the poetry of James DePreist. His second collection of poetry has the tautness of a perfectly pitched viola and much of its resonance.”

These succinct, meticulously paced poems sometimes root us to an image or an idea, and sometimes launch us into surprising, soaring openness.

Beyond me
    came the meanings.

Meanings beyond words,
    long held from view
now lovingly decanted
    into prisms.

Meanings beyond words,
    multiplied beyond me
in transit
    to their source.

(from This Precipice Garden, page 7)

The book Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat brings together the memorable characters book cover: Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hatfrom Ted Geisel's books for children in large format art reproductions, interspersed with imaginative variations beyond the story lines of his books. Many of these paintings are abstract in style, with a much broader range of color than in his books for children. Whimsical Seuss characters remain in the composition, but the effect is more on the abstract landscape, portrait, or other focus of the painting.

When he and his wife moved to a slower-paced life in La Jolla, his work took on a new freedom and direction. What he wanted to do, he said, was simply to "stay in La Jolla and write children's books." He also painted the social scene that he observed in La Jolla, stylistically as elaboratations of the characters in his books. He found more time for painting, deliberately free of the constraints from the commercial side of his work, or the more formal world of galleries and reviews. The "Secret Paintings," as he called them, provided an escape into an imaginative realm where he could further explore the surrealistic themes that filled his everyday work as a writer of books for children. During his lifetime he sold only one of these paintings, an auction donation to the La Jolla Art Museum.

For this book a series of exhibitions, Geisel's Midnight Paintings and artwork from his childrens' book were reproduced in new authorized print editions. The Midnight Paintings, brought out of dark storage in La Jolla for over 50 years, still were as vibrant and bright as when he had painted them.

Place a hold to have this book delivered to your nearest branch of Multnomah County Library:
Dr. Seuss, the Cat Behind the Hat / written by Caroline M. Smith ; images compiled and edited by William W. Dreyer, Michael Reagan, Robert Chase Jr. Chicago : Chase Art, 2012.
Locations: multiple neighborhood libraries of the Multnomah County Library system.

Karsh: Beyond the Camera is a book cover for Karsh: Beyond the Camerabeautifully designed book by Godine about the life and work of Yousuf Karsh, with stories to accompany the duotone photographs.
"In my case, I must confess, I am trained and I can tell whether there is something beyond that face or not. And that's where I attempt to light that feature in such a way that I can elicit the true character of that person." (p.12)

From the Preface:
Hearing his accented diction, cadences, and inflections, one's imagination is guided from the subject rendered in the famous image to the person who created it. A voice can do that. His voice invites us to try to fathom the photographer's psyche and conjecture how he thinks and how he feels, just as we might try to determine the character of any storyteller or poet.

YouTube : There are several interviews of Yousuf Karsh, here is one of these:

Place a hold to have this book delivered to your closest MCL Library branch:
Karsh : beyond the camera / selected, with an introduction & commentary by David Travis. Boston : David R. Godine, 2012.  Central Library  770.92 K1887k 2012        


Central and Neighborhood libraries offer library users an exciting collection of music books, CDs, DVDs, and scores, for listening to music, for study, and for performance at all levels.  As the largest library, Central Library serves as a resource for the entire system.

Online access

Login with your Multnomah County Library card to use the Library's online music resources from your home, office, or school:

  • Oxford Music Online: The complete New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
  • Music Online from Alexander Street Press:  An exciting collection of audio, video, reference books and scores.
  • Freegal: Download 1 song a week with your library card. Please note: the Freegal service from Multnomah County Library will be discontinued on Jan. 31, 2014.
  • JSTOR: Full text of music periodicals.
  • The Music Index: Search for articles in this comprehensive index for music journals.

Central Library Music books and Scores

Music Scores: With over 33,000 scores to check out, the music score collection is one of the largest among public libraries on the West Coast. It is intended to support Portland's musicians, with all types of music for amateurs through professional performers, students, and teachers. The Library welcomes purchase requests from Multnomah County cardholders.

Music Books: The old and new in music publishing can be found at Central Library, where there are many out of print books as well as current year imprints available for reading about music.

How to use the new Library Catalog

My MCL: Catalog Search Guide for Music:  Get acquainted with the new Library Catalog.

Ask a Question

Looking for something specific? Contact us.

How to search the new Library Catalog for music:
Top | Authors | Authors with Common NamesTitles | Keywords

Multnomah County Library has the largest collection for music of any public library in Oregon, and is one of the largest on the West Coast. This guide shows you how to find music books, scores, CDs and DVDs in the new Library Catalog, including:

  • scores with piano accompaniment on CD
  • DVDs to learn musical instruments or singing
  • complete works and indexes of major composers
  • 33,000+ music scores for beginners to professional musicians

Choose the catalog version you prefer: Bibliocommons(New Catalog) | Classic Catalog

In the Multnomah County Library network of libraries, Central Library has the largest collection of books, music scores, CDs, DVDs and videos. Request delivery to the Neighborhood Library that is most convenient for you.

Ask a Question:
Looking for something specific? Contact us.

As with the old saying "you can't tell a book Music Online Alexander Street Press Online Resource from Multnomah County Libraryby its cover" about books, the contents of the Library's online resources are often not fully apparent from the title. Music Online is just such a resource, consisting of not one online collection but eleven different thematic libraries of recordings, videos, books, and scores. You can use Music Online to look for something specific. But another way is simply to explore its astonishing content through the various collections. Here is a way to start:

Login with your Multnomah County Library card barcode and pin number. The box "Select Collections"  expands when selected to show the various libraries to explore, some consisting of books, others of recordings, videos, or scores. The "Advanced Search" at the top of the webpage is another good way to start, if you would like to search for a specific piece of music, composer or performer.

Example: Smithsonian Global Sound
This is a collection of folk and traditional music, from the Folkways Records and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, with cover art and liner notes.  Try it out: log in to Music Online with your Multnomah County Library barcode and pin number, and select Smithsonian Global Sound or one of the other collections. A good way to explore this collection below is to select one of the links in the BROWSE section.

Smithsonian Global Sound from Alexander Street Press

You can save tracks to playlists, and return to them each time by creating an account and logging in each time you use Music Online. Follow the sign in link at the top of each screen to create an account and log in.

Questions? Please let us know if we can assist you,

Central Library Reference Librarian


Quarter notes and bank notes : Book cover: Quarter Notes and Bank Notesthe economics of music composition in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries / F.M. Scherer.
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2004.
Central      331.7617 S326q 2004

"Written by a leading economist with an unusually broad knowledge of music, this fascinating account is directed toward individuals intrigued by the world of classical composers as well as those interested in economic history or the role of money in art." - excerpt from the book description

The central question of this book is "the extent to which composers divided their professional lives between the patronage and freelance alternatives." The balance between these two types of economies are described with many interesting stories about the struggles of composers dealing with music publishers, copyright violations, performance rights, travel, plus supply and demand factors. A fascinating book for comparisons to the present time.

Fashion : the definitive history of costume and style / [produced in association with the Smithsonian ; Smithsonian consultant, Susan Brown].

Book cover:  Fashion The Definitive History of Costume and Stylepage from Fashion: A Definitive History

New York, N.Y. : DK Publishing, c2012.
1st American ed.
Central and Neighborhood Libraries     391.009 F248 2012

A stunning new book we just received, entirely in pictorial format with timelines, that shows the history of western fashion through the centuries up to the present time. Examples from past eras before the invention of photography have been reproduced from paintings, such as in this example below: 1450-1624 Practical Clothing, with images from the paintings of Bosch, Holbein, and Breugel.

From the description:
"...this gorgeous collection of costume and dress shows how fashion reflects people and places, and captures the times in which they lived."--P. [4] of cover."

Color Scheme Bible: Inpirational Palettes for Designing Home InteriorsThe Color Scheme Bible, essentially a book of color swatches, goes through the entire spectrum of colors in terms of painting choices for interiors, matched with contrasting and related colors to use as part of the complete color scheme for a room.  The intensity and saturation of the main colors varies from page to page, with the accent colors at times fading into the primary selection, or used as a bold contrast. The pages show the effects of mutability of color based on the background color, adjacent colors, and other effects.

It's likely that these samples of colors for interiors may be quite different from what appeared in books about room colors in other decades, and it would be interesting to make comparisons. It's fascinating, nonetheless, to page through the book and look at the effects of adjacent placement of colors and imagine how these combinations might be used for other types of projects in addition to interiors.

The color scheme bible : inspirational palettes for designing home interiors
Starmer, Anna.
Buffalo, New York : Firefly Books, 2012, c2005.
747.94 S795c 2012

Related book: One of the most significant books on the effects of color is Josef Albers' book The Interaction of Color, originally published with color silk screen paper samples, by Yale University Press in 1963.

From the preface to the 2006 edition:

"This new paperback edition presents a significantly expanded selection of more than thirty color studies alongside Albers's original unabridged text, demonstrating such principles as color relativity, intensity, and temperature; vibrating and vanishing boundaries; and the illusions of transparency and reversed grounds."

The color block sample below, from Albers' book, illustrates how colors change based on adjacency: the small center squares appear to be different colors, due to the very different backgrounds. Some of these same effects are described in the book The Color Scheme Bible, for the effects of variations of paint colors based on adjacency from room to room.

Joseph Albers The Interaction of Color

Interaction of Color / Josef Albers ; [foreword by Nicholas Fox Weber].
New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, c2006. Rev. and expanded ed.
Central  Library    752 A33i 2006

Quote from the book and description:
Book Cover: A Visit with Magritte "If I indulge myself and surrender to memory, I can still feel the knot of excitement that gripped me as I turned the corner into Rue Mimosas, looking for the house of Rene Magritte. It was August, 1965. I was thirty three years old and about to meet the man whose profound and witty surrealist paintings had contradicted my assumptions about photography."

This book records Michals' visit with the great Belgian painter of inverse worlds and bizarre hybrid forms. Michals invites the viewer to follow him on the exciting journey to the private sphere of an artist who at the time inspired and intimidated him.

The still lifes taken in Margritte's house and the portraits of the inhabitants, Margritte and his wife, are distant and intimate, private and representative, humorous and calm at the same time. They reflect the high respect the man behind the camera felt for the subjects of his pictures.

A visit with Magritte / Duane Michals.
Göttingen : Steidl, 2011.
Central      779.092 M621v 2011



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