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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

About Performing Arts Programs


Great Composer-Pianists: Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Brahms

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Popular speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin guides a unique series that explores the creative minds—and hands—of a quartet of piano pioneers celebrated for their prowess as composers and performers. Each lecture includes a live performance of a work by the spotlighted composer. This program focuses on Johannes Brahms.


Dangerous Music

Monday, June 6, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Too political, too sensuous, too crude, too abstract: Works by even the most celebrated of composers—including Mozart, Beethoven, and Stravinsky—became targets for outrage and censorship. Lecturer and concert pianist Rachel Franklin looks at several once-controversial musical works and the uproars, scandals, and even brawls they inspired during their times.


From the Hays Code to X-Rated Movies: A History of Hollywood Censorship

Tuesday, June 7, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

From its beginnings, motion pictures have delighted the public—and upset civic and religious authorities who felt that movies needed to be regulated to protect “innocent” minds and discourage immorality. Media expert Brian Rose surveys years of movie censorship and the many ways Hollywood has tried to deal with this ever-evolving issue.


The Presence of Mister Rogers: Preserving Humanity in the Digital Age

Tuesday, June 7, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Fred Rogers’ extraordinary capacity to connect with his audience made him an endearing figure to the millions of children (and grown-ups) who watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood over its 33-year run. Steven M. Emmanuel of Virginia Wesleyan University examines how Rogers was able to create a personal presence that radiated care, compassion, and humanity in the impersonal medium of television—and finds lessons for today.


Women Who Shaped the Musical World

Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET

Throughout the history of Western music, men have claimed most of the spotlight, with scores of brilliant creative women relegated to the less brightly lit corners of the musical word. In programs featuring live piano performances, Rachel Franklin places them center stage as she examines their talent, grit, intellect, and drive, without which many of the most celebrated musical figures might have been significantly less successful.


Judy Garland: A 100th Birthday Tribute

Thursday, June 16, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Her decades of stardom and struggle were marked by bouts of alcohol and drug abuse, multiple divorces, and career swings, but Judy Garland remains one of the greatest interpreters of American popular song. American music specialist Robert Wyatt explores highlights from her extraordinary life with clips from her movies and television specials.


Women in Jazz: On and Off the Concert Stage

Thursday, June 16, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

In a lecture-concert presentation, Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra's artistic director Charlie Young highlights the contributions of some of the leading women in jazz as the SJMO performs music they’ve made famous.


The Beethoven String Quartets

Saturday, June 18, 2022 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Though not as well-known as his symphonies or piano sonatas, Beethoven's string quartets are among the classical repertory's most sublime masterpieces. Join musicologist Daniel Freeman as he explores the history and genius of Beethoven’s string quartets. 


60 Years of Bond, James Bond

Thursday, July 14, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

You’ll be shaken, if not stirred, by this multimedia presentation—unredacted and for your eyes only!—where the mission is to crack the code behind the high-tech glamour, globetrotting excitement, and enduring popularity of the 007 film cycle.


All Shook Up: Hollywood Learns To Rock

Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Rock music exploded on the big screen in 1955 when Bill Haley & His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” played behind the opening credits of Blackboard Jungle. Brian Rose, professor emeritus at Fordham University, looks at rock movies’ first decade and how Hollywood benefited from the power of this music—and its target audience—around the world.


Follow the Music: An All-American Road Trip

Thursday, July 28, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

You love the songs that are the soundtrack of your life. Join national travel journalist and broadcaster Bill Clevlen on a virtual road trip to the places where they were born and where iconic performers made history. It’s a memorable cross-country journey into the heart of American music that just might inspire your own.


Hopper and Hitchcock: Spectatorship and Voyeurism in Art and Film

Sunday, August 7, 2022 - 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET

Alfred Hitchcock and American painter Edward Hopper, an unlikely artistic pair, shared a rich and complex vision deeply affected by the traditions of film noir. Using film stills and paintings, David Gariff, senior lecturer at the National Gallery of Art, explores the formal and thematic links between these artists. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


Jazz: Modern Soundscapes in Film

Tuesday, August 23, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Some of the world’s greatest movie scores were composed by some of the world’s greatest jazz musicians. With film clips, commentary, and live piano demonstrations, concert musician and movie fanatic Rachel Franklin delves into the hidden magic of some of the finest jazz-inspired music from films including A Streetcar Named Desire, The Sweet Smell of Success, Alfie, and Birdman.


DC’s Black Broadway: Remembering U Street’s Brightest Lights

Wednesday, August 24, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Long before today’s restaurants, boutiques, and luxury high-rises, Washington’s U Street was known as the city’s vibrant Black Broadway. Author Briana A. Thomas brings to life the historic U Street neighborhood’s heritage of arts, entertainment, and commerce from the early triumphs of emancipation to the recent struggles of gentrification.


Rockin' TV: From Elvis to the Monkees

Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Though rock music found a surprising home on mainstream TV in the mid-1950s, the 1964 appearance of the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” would change the face of pop culture, leading to an explosion of televised rock. Media expert Brian Rose offers a lively survey of the fascinating history of how rock and television grew up together.


Miles Davis: Prince of Style

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Miles Davis was a restless innovator, controversial celebrity, and the dominant jazz figure of the second half of the 20th century. In a program highlighted by clips and musical recordings, John Edward Hasse, longtime curator of American music at the National Museum of American History, recounts Davis’s struggles against racism, convention, and his own demons.


The Road to Nashville

November 6 - 10, 2022, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET

Nashville is a 21st-century boom town, a cultural melting pot that attracts residents from across the nation and around the world. If the Ken Burns documentary Country Music sparked your appetite to learn more about the form’s roots and influences, this 5-day  tour offers the perfect way to do it.