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Music and COVID-19


While most art can be described as a two-way conversation between the artist and the audience, this notion is especially true with music. As an art form, music desires listeners. Music is best understood as an abstract concept, an art form dependent on time rather than a physical entity; that is to say, music is a living art form.

So what happens to music when people are asked to practice social distancing? What happens to music during a pandemic? How do musicians and their audiences stay connected? We've seen impromptu musical performances in Italy and elsewhere around the globe, as well as other creative uses of apartment balconies. But another way musicians have reached their listeners is through the use of streaming platforms.

The spread of COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the global economy, and the entertainment industry is not immune. AEG and Live Nation—two of the largest concert promoters—have recommended the cancellation of all live music events until at least the end of March. Millions of dollars in revenue have been lost. Musicians are now finding themselves out of work as major music festivals and events are being canceled or postponed.

The world feels like a pretty bleak place right now, but that hasn't stopped artists from continuing to create and wanting to share their art with others. In fact, the upswing in musicians livestreaming performances is notable. It has the potential to change the music industry and how musicians and their fans interact, perhaps on a deeper, emotional level.

Streaming: When and Where

An excellent performance of Rachmaninov's 2nd piano concerto, by Boris Giltburg. Available on Naxos.
Some of the world's biggest acts, from Billie Eilish to Harry Styles, have canceled or postponed their tours due to the spread of COVID-19. Other artists, like Lady Gaga and HAIM, have postponed their album release dates in response to the recent events. South by Southwest (SXSW) was canceled, and Coachella—normally held in April—was postponed until October 2020.

This hasn't stopped artists from reaching out to their fans through livestreaming. Musicians like Christine and the Queens, Miley Cryus, and Elton John have plans to perform live via streaming services like Instagram, Facebook Live, and YouTube.

You can find a list of when and where to catch these artists' livestreams with these updating lists below.

Additionally, Billboard has compiled a state-by-state guide for music professionals in need of support during the coronavirus crisis.


Woman dancing

Still from 2008 production of Folkine's The Firebird and Nijinski's Rite of Spring, music by Stravinsky. Available in Medici.tv


Pepperdine Libraries and Music

Pepperdine Libraries is committed to the students of Pepperdine during this unprecedented time, serving all departments and majors, including music. Below are some long-established resources available to all students, faculty, and staff, as well as some free trials that have been offered in light of the large shift to remote learning.


Streaming Content

  • Medici.tv: Medici.tv is described as "the leading educational video resource in classical music, opera, and dance." The site broadcasts more than 100 live events each year, from venues and festivals such as Carnegie Hall, Bolshoi Theater, Opéra national de Paris, NCPA, Glyndebourne Festival, Lucerne Festival, Verbier Festival, Salzburg Festival, International Tchaikovsky Competition, International Chopin Piano Competition, Plácido Domingo's Operalia Competition, and more.
  • Digital Theatre Plus: Digital Theatre Plus brings live performance into the classroom, accompanied by a range of educational resources for illustration, explanation, and critical reflection. Includes several theatre resources, including over 200 productions, 18 master classes, 27 documentaries, 260 interviews and 62 practical guides.
  • Naxos Music Library: Access to over 1.45 million tracks of music from the Naxos and other independent music labels; includes background information such as complete linear notes.

Other Must-Know Resources

  • Grove Music Online: Access to more than 60,000 signed articles and 30,000 biographies contributed by over 6,000 scholars from around the world. Includes the full texts of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition (2001), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (1992), and The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd edition (2002), as well as numerous subsequent updates and emendations.
  • Oxford History of Western Music Online: Offers an account of the evolution of Western classical music by one of the most prominent and provocative musicologists of our time, Richard Taruskin. The full text, which was printed in five thick volumes in print, is now available in an interactive digital format.
  • IPA Source: Library of International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) transcriptions and literal translations of opera arias and art song texts, containing over 11,000 texts including 1311 opera-aria texts.

Online Music Collections

Pepperdine Libraries also has a vast collection of online sheet music. Here are some below.

  • IMSLP: International Music Score Library Project: The Petrucci Music Library is a virtual library containing all public domain musical scores, as well as scores from composers who are willing to share their music with the world without charge.
  • Classical Music Library: Access to streaming music consisting of 47,839 albums, equalling over 712,700 classical music recordings. Includes the Music Library Association listing of essential sound recordings, recordings of music written from the earliest times (e.g., Gregorian Chant) to the present, including many contemporary composers. Includes program notes, composer biographies, and images cross-referenced to the recordings plus links to Grove Music Online.
  • Open Music Library: Curated by a community of music scholars, students, teachers, and librarians, the Open Music Library brings together peer-reviewed journal articles, books, and music scores from the world's digital collections.
  • Mozart Digital Edition: Operated by the Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum in cooperation with the Packard Humanities Institute, the Digital Mozart Edition offers the musical text and the critical commentary of the entire Neue Mozart-Ausgabe.

Free Trial: Berliner Philharmoniker

Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall: The Berliner Philharmoniker invite you to visit their virtual concert hall for a free trial. Log on to the Digital Concert Hall ticket page with the code BERLINPHIL and use the Digital Concert Hall free of charge for 30 days. This code expires Tuesday, 31 March 2020. Learn more about this offer here.

Your Music Liaison Librarian

My name is Cory Aitchison, and I serve as the music liaison librarian for Pepperdine Libraries. This means I'm the music faculty and students' go-to person for any questions related to music. I've played piano for sixteen years. I originally attended Moorpark College as a music major and was part of their applied music program, which was a combination of music theory and performance courses. I ultimately switched my major to anthropology before transferring to UCLA, but I continued my music education through music history courses, with topics ranging from baroque opera to electronic dance music.

During this time of shelter-in-place and working remotely, I continue to support the music department through a variety of tasks. Among other responsibilities, I oversee our Performing Ensembles collection. These scores and instrumental parts are used by Pepperdine's orchestra, band, and jazz performance students. The collection is expansive, with hundreds of pieces spanning all styles of classical music. Over the past few years from my office desk—and over the last couple of weeks from my temporary home office—I have added these materials to Pepperdine Libraries' catalog.

If you are a music student or faculty member, please don't hesitate to reach out if you need help or would like to chat. My contact information is found here.

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