The durability of fame is not always easy to understand.
Two great advantages in keeping one's listing in the annals of history are a large corpus of written work, such as that by Thomas Jefferson, and a great number of portraits, such as is the case with Andrew Jackson.
Now the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery offers, through next Sunday, "Old Hickory: A Life Sketch of Andrew Jackson." As is its habit, the Portrait Gallery does a grand job at showing the man on the $20 bill. Jackson's distinctive physiognomy is shown in or on more than 70 paintings, engravings, political cartoons, vases, ribbons, gold medals, a treasury note, the frigate Constitution's figurehead, a tortoise-shell comb and an ivory cameo brooch. His image is fleshed out by maps, letters, dueling pistols (used), gold spectacles, white beaver hat and his general's uniform. His wife, his friends and his enemies are also portrayed.
Two brilliant young Norwegian musicians, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and violist Lars Anders Thomter, will make their American debuts Thursday night at the Renwick Gallery under the auspices of the Smithsonian Resident Associates. Judging by recordings made in Norway (which may not be available locally), this should be an extraordinary evening.
A highlight of the week's chamber music will be the 20th Century Consort's program Saturday at the Hirshhorn Museum: Martinu's "Kitchen Revue," Poulenc's "The Masked Ball," Milhaud's "Agricultural Machines" and Stravinsky's "Dumbarton Oaks" Concerto.
Another will be a recital by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Wednesday night at the Kennedy Center. Other string soloists playing here this week will include violinists Jay Zhong, today at the Phillips Collection, and Leonid Sushansky, tomorrow night at Strathmore Hall.
Randall Craig Fleischer will conduct the National Symphony Orchestra this week in a program of Dvorak, Sibelius and Borodin. At George Mason University on Saturday, baritone Jerome Barry will be the guest artist in a Fairfax Symphony program featuring songs from "The Threepenny Opera" as well as music of Beethoven, Colgrass and Tchaikovsky.
Is it time (after more than a century of musicmaking) for the Friday Morning Music Club to find a new name? True, it will sponsor a free chamber concert on Friday (at noon -- almost morning) at the Sumner School, but that is only a fraction of its activities this week. It will also be at Sumner at noon Wednesday, and at 3 this afternoon it will be in two places at once, with a choral concert at St. Columba's Episcopal Church and a chamber program at the Sumner School. How about the Anytime Anywhere Music Club?
Pianists of the week: Ann Schein, tonight at the National Gallery; Aleksandar Serdar, Thursday evening at Meridian House; the Cantilena Piano Quartet, Friday night at the Corcoran Gallery.
Choral music of the week: the Vienna Choir Boys, Saturday night at the Kennedy Center; the Washington Men's Camerata and Cornell University Glee Club, Saturday night at Gaston Hall.
Also worth noting: Caprice, Tuesday noon, Church of the Epiphany; Washington Guitar Quintet, Friday night, National Presbyterian Church; Hesperus, two shows Saturday at the Museum of American History.
"Dansketches" is the label for a shared program of dances by various choreographers, curated by Nancy Havlik, at Dance Place this afternoon. Pirin, the Bulgarian National Folk Ensemble -- a troupe of 75 dancers, singers and instrumentalists under the artistic direction of Kiril Stefanov -- performs Thursday evening at Montgomery College in Rockville. The Washington Ballet presents a new edition of its "Ballets From Within" program at Lisner Auditorium Friday morning and evening, featuring new works by choreographers from within company ranks. The Spanish Dance Society, led by artistic director Marina Keet, performs with guest guitarist Michael Lorimer at the Smithsonian's Baird Auditorium Saturday afternoon and evening. Keith Terry, drummer, choreographer, dancer and former member of the Jazz Tap Ensemble, presents a program of "body music," including rhythm dance, body percussion, humor and music, at the Barns at Wolf Trap Saturday night. Veteran Washington innovator Maida Withers and her Dance Construction Company present a new program of works inspired by Withers's background in the Southwest, at Dance Place Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.
Today, the American Film Institute will continue its series on the films of Bernardo Bertolucci with the full 165-minute version of Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West." Supposedly, Bertolucci, whose film adaptation of Paul Bowles's "The Sheltering Sky" opens Friday, wrote a screenplay for the film that ran to 300 pages, but Leone had it rewritten, and he was given only a story credit. The program for the coming weeks will include screenings of early Bertolucci works such as his 1962 debut, "The Grim Reaper," plus the little seen "Luna" and the sprawling 5 1/2-hour director's print of "1900." The series, which ends with the Academy Award-winning "The Last Emperor," runs through the end of the month.
Jazz fans may want to lunch, dine and even stay over at the Sheraton Washington Thursday through Sunday: The International Association of Jazz Educators is having its annual conference there and lots of jazz bands will be giving free performances at various locations. There is also a pair of concerts Friday and Saturday night in the hotel's ballroom: the Friday show features the Max Roach Double Quartet, the Oleg-Lundstrem Orchestra and the Bob Mintzer Big Band; the Saturday concerts features Lester Bowie Brass Fantasy, Bobby Watson and Horizon and the Rick Margitza Band. Tickets are available through Ticketron.