10 New Works of Music in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

The Boccaccio Project Will Feature New Works by 10 Pairs of Composers and Performers to be Premiered Online During 10 Days in June

The Library of Congress will premiere a series of 10 commissions of new music from composers across America in The Boccaccio Project, inspired by a similar literary effort in the mid-14th century by Giovanni Boccaccio.

The new commissions will premiere on the Library’s website and its social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) on weekdays from June 15 to June 26, and the commission manuscripts will become part of the Library’s music collections. 

In the mid-14th century Boccaccio (1313-1375) wrote the “Decameron,” a collection of 100 stories shared among a group of 10 acquaintances who had removed themselves from society during the darkest period of a plague. This early artistic response to an outbreak provided context and a means of expression. That moment in history parallels the quarantine and social distancing phenomena we have been experiencing worldwide in recent months.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, curators in the Library’s Music Division drew on Boccaccio’s example to offer some musical responses. The curators asked 10 pairs of composers and performers to write brief solo works to be premiered over the course of 10 days. The composers and performers are working remotely, and once the new commissions have been recorded, they will be released on the Library’s digital platforms and by the artists.

The release of the commissions over 10 days is a nod to the “Decameron’s” structure.