According to the center, the festival, called A New America: The 1940s and the Arts, is the largest in its history.
Among the symphonic music on the schedule is a National Symphony Orchestra concert with pieces from the period by Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter, Paul Creston, Aaron Copland, Erich Korngold, William Schuman, and Virgil Thompson, performed by the National Symphony Orchestra; chamber music concerts include a performance by the Fine Arts Quartet, with pianist Sara Wolfensohn, playing works by George Antheil.
Modern dance is represented by performances by the Martha Graham Dance Company of Appalachian Spring, Graham's seminal work choreographed to music by Copland. Graham was at her peak in the '40s, creating the works that would influence modern dance for years to come.
Two classical ballet troupes that came into being in the 1940s, American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, will also perform.
Several performances mark the invention of bebop during the decade, including an appearance by the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band and one by vocalist Vanessa Rubin and an all-star group playing songs by Tadd Dameron. Popular music includes a concert by the NSO Pops, conducted by Marvin Hamlisch, and a salute to the 1940s Broadway musical featuring Barabara Cook, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Elaine Stritch.
The festival runs through June.