Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • " Two Northern Songs, Op. 43: No. 1, The Brook; No. 2, Slumber Song" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. Setting his own text, MacDowell describes a winter scene: "Frozen is the ground, / The stream's ice bound, / Softly the north wind croons, softly croons." In the final stanza, a "flaxen head," perhaps a child's, rests on the poet's shoulder while it snows outside. The text and melody are carried by the soprano while the lower three voices hum. Harmony is chromatic ...

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  • Peerless Quartet

    Peerless Quartet, a popular and long-lived ensemble, was organized in 1906 by bass Frank C. Stanley. The quartet's sound was built around the clear-toned and easily recognizable tenor of Henry Burr. Upon Stanley's death in 1910, Burr became its manager and was the one constant member of the group until its dissolution in 1928. The Peerless Quartet began recording for Victor Records in 1908.

  • American Opera

    By the turn of the nineteenth century, the dominance of Italian opera was waning in favor of distinct national traditions. As those traditions developed, the Italian style was appropriated and combined with theatrical, dance, folk music and instrumental music styles that represented each country's unique musical culture creating the multifaceted art form that 21st century audiences know as opera. Today, opera companies in the ...

  • Of Thee I Sing

    Article. View posters from the New Deal era in American Memory

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • 1850 to 1899 -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Cultural and historical events from 1850 to 1899 related to American song.

    • Date: 1850
  • Nellie Melba

    Dame Nellie Melba (Helen Porter Armstrong, née Mitchell) (1861–1931) was born in Australia and as a child studied piano, violin, and harp. Her 1887 operatic debut in Brussels was an enormous success and she continued to perform in Europe to great acclaim. She debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1893 and remained there until 1910. Her pure voice was described as ...

  • Classic Rag

    John Stark was particularly proud of the rags that his firm published. One of his advertisements read: "Why are the Stark Music Co's Rags called Classic? This is the reason: They are intellectual musical thought grounded in the emotional principle of humanity. They are the musical soul-thought of the human race."

  • God Bless America

    Article. Irving Berlin lived a long life, one hundred and one years, and built a catalog of over 1,000 songs. His first published song was "Marie from Sunny Italy" (1907) and his first major hit was "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1911). He also wrote for Broadway and the movies. Among his most recognized songs are "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody," "Mandy," "White Christmas," ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • American Indian and Native Alaskan Song

    Over the course of time, some song genres have declined as the occasions for their use have passed, while new ones have arisen and others have been adapted in response to changing contexts. The tradition of war dance songs, for example, once used to commemorate intertribal conflict, now honors the experiences of Indian members and veterans of the armed forces.

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  • Star Spangled Banner

    Article. The Anacreontic Society was founded around 1766, and named in honor of the ancient Greek court poet Anacreon, who in the sixth century B.C., entertained his tyrannical patrons with lyrics celebrating wine, women, and song. In 1791 Franz Josef Haydn was the Society's honored guest at a performance of one of his own symphonies, which indicates the primacy of the group's musical interests. ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Jack Norworth

    Jack Norworth (1879–1959) was a well-known song-and-dance man who was active in vaudeville and on the Broadway stage during the early years of the twentieth century. His most famous stage appearances were made with his then-wife, Nora Bayes, with whom he composed the smash-hit song "Shine On, Harvest Moon." Norworth recorded for Victor both as a soloist and in duet with Bayes. His voice ...

  • Willis Laurence James (1900-1966)

    Biography. Library of Congress/Fisk University Mississippi Delta Collection (AFC 1941/002) (finding aid to the collection).

    • Contributor: James, Willis
  • Woody Guthrie

    Biography. Resources

  • Art Song -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear; ... Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs. -- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855) Playlist Five recordings from Library of Congress collections My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free The Francis Hopkinson composotion as performed on the Favorites from the Song of America Tour with Thomas Hampson, baritone, and Wolfram Rieger, piano. Recorded ...

  • Children's Songs -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Children's songs may include songs that adults sing or teach to children, songs children pass along to each other, and songs that children compose themselves. These distinctions are not always clear cut, however, as adults may teach children songs that they learned from other children in childhood, and children may pass along songs learned from adults to other children. Playlist Five recordings from Library ...

  • Regional Song Sampler: The Southeast

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • "The Morning Wind" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Also published as a solo song, Branscombe's choral setting (SSA) was issued by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1914. The text is by Kendall Banning (1879-1944). The short piano introduction depicts the morning wind with an arpeggiated triplet figure in compound meter. The wind, the dawn, and "the land so fair" are wooing the narrator to explore "wherever roads may lead." The ...

  • Songs Related to the Abolition of Slavery

    Among the places that slaves could run to and avoid capture were lands belonging to American Indian tribes by treaty. Before the United States acquired Florida, slaves could flee there to both leave the United States and seek allies among the Seminole tribe. In the webcast Tim Tingle and D.J. Battiest-Tomasi: Oklahoma Choctaw Music and Storytelling, available in this presentation, Tim Tingle tells a ...

  • " Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The alto carries the stately melody accompanied by a mournful, falling motive in the two soprano lines on the word "oh." The top-voiced harmonization is creative, and the melodic writing is vocally demanding. The work climaxes on a high, five-part divisi chord at the penultimate statement of the text, "A long way from home." The work ends pp in augmented note values on ...

  • Henry Clay Work

    Biography. Henry Clay Work (1832-1884) was born in Middleton, CT to abolitionist parents. A printer by trade and self-taught song composer, Work was employed by the Root & Cady music publishing house in Chicago and published his first song in 1853. Known for his emotionally charged Civil War songs such as Marching Through Georgia (1865), he was one of the most popular songwriters of ...

  • "I Love Thee, Lord" by William W. Gilchrist

    Article. The choral writing features a dialogue between the upper three voices and the bass. Gilchrist was fond of using contrapuntal devices to enliven his choral writing. At the end of the second verse, "Our source, our centre, and our dwelling place," triplets suddenly emerge in the accompaniment. The voices remain in common time, however, creating a rhythmic tension as the sopranos climb to ...

  • John Wesley Work, III (1901-1967)

    Biography. Resources

    • Contributor: Work, John W. (John Wesley)
  • The Creation of "Amazing Grace"

    Article. Article. NOTES:1. Information for this essay was drawn in great part from Steve Turner's book "Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song" (New York: HarperCollins, 2002). We are grateful to the author for allowing us to quote his book liberally. [back to text]2. As Turner notes, the Quakers and Anabaptists were the only Christians to speak out against slavery (p. 50). ...

  • Haydn Quartet

    Haydn Quartet (pronounced hay-den) was a much-recorded male quartet that most often consisted of tenors John Bieling and Harry Macdonough, baritone S. H. Dudley, and William F. Hooley as bass. Later Reinald Werranrath replaced Dudley. Whereas the American Quartet generally recorded bright, often ragtime-infused popular numbers, the Haydn (later spelled Hayden) Quartet usually sang slower-tempo, statelier, sometimes religious material. They also recorded vernacular selections ...