Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Nathaniel Shilkret

    Nathaniel Shilkret (1892–1982) served for many years as the Victor Company's musical director and was the creator of the Victor Salon Orchestra. Shilkret was a classically trained clarinetist, pianist, composer, and arranger and handled recording sessions as disparate as grand opera, ethnic ensembles, and dance music with equal skill.

  • Alma Gluck

    Alma Gluck (Reba Fiersohn) (1884–1938) was a Romanian-born soprano who, after working seven seasons for the Metropolitan Opera, devoted the remainder of her career to recording and concertizing. She recorded the first of over 150 titles for Victor in 1911. Her best-known disc was "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny." She was married to violinist Efrem Zimbalist, who often accompanied her on records.

  • Montague Ring

    Biography. Biography. Ms. Aldridge was the mentor and coach to such luminaries as Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, and Roland Hayes. She also composed several classical works including the songs "Noontide Song" and "'Tis Morning," the piano suites "Three Pictures from Syria," "Baghdad," "Four Moorish Pictures," "Three African Dances," and "Carnival: Suite of Five Dances," as well as several light orchestral works.

  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, 1875-1912

    Biography. Biography. In England, Coleridge-Taylor continued an active life in music. He composed, taught at Trinity College of Music, conducted numerous choral societies, and even conducted in the famed Handel Society from 1904 until his death. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor died on September 1, 1912, of pneumonia contracted due to overwork.

  • Maurice Arnold, 1865-1937

    Biography. Biography. Maurice Arnold was one of many African-American students of Antonin Dvorak during Dvorak's 1894 stay in the United States. Arnold participated in Dvorak's famous January 23, 1894, concert at the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. Arnold's four "American Plantation Dances" were performed at the conservatory and garnered him a small measure of fame. He was also the author of ...

  • Scott Joplin, 1868-1917

    Biography. Biography. Sedalia continues to celebrate its unique ragtime heritage with the annual Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival held under the auspices of the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation (

  • Edward Alexander MacDowell (1860-1908)

    Biography. MacDowell, Marian. Random Notes on Edward MacDowell and his Music. Boston: Arthur P. Schmidt and Co., 1950.

  • Benjamin Shook

    Biography. Biography. A musician who was well-versed in almost all musical idioms except the blues, Benjamin Shook was a bandleader in Detroit from the end of the 19th century into the 1930s. According to Blesh and Janis, authors of They All Played Ragtime, the bands of Theodore Finney, Fred S. Stone, and Benjamin Shook "...monopolized the city's entertainment and social world to the almost ...

  • Arthur Collins

    Arthur Collins (1864–1933) was a widely recorded baritone whose comic songs, especially "Preacher and the Bear," endeared him to many. Much of his material was termed "coon songs," a description he detested, but he performed it with great skill. He was also well known as half of the singing duo Collins and Harlan.

  • The Happiness Boys

    Billy Jones (1889–1940) and Ernest Hare (1883–1939) were an enormously popular comic singing duo. They claimed to have been the first duo to be signed by a radio sponsor. They began recording together in late 1920 and in December 1923 began their first radio program, a series for the Happiness Candy Company. This association gave them their well-known and apt sobriquet "The Happiness Boys." ...

  • Will Marion Cook (1869-1944)

    Biography. Biography. Biography. Cook also followed his own advice. Thomas Riis, in his study of early black musical theater, singles out Cook's remarkable harmonic skill and compositional sophistication. When the pursuit of his classical career was stymied, Cook brought his exceptional talent to bear on popular music, perhaps paving the way for the marriage of popular spirit and classical complexity which became jazz. Either ...

  • Amy Beach (1867-1944)

    Biography. Biography. Beach assumed many leadership positions, often in advancing the cause of American women composers. She was associated with the Music Teachers National Association and the Music Educators National Conference. In 1925, she was a founding member and first president of the Society of American Women Composers. Following her death on December 27, 1944, Beach's royalties were given to the MacDowell Colony, as ...

  • William Grant Still, 1895-1978

    Biography. Further Reading

  • Harry Lauder

    Sir Harry Lauder (1870–1950) is best remembered for comic songs and rambling monologues performed in an intimate yet sometimes rousing manner in a thick Scottish brogue. Knighted in 1919, Scottish-born Lauder worked his way up from poverty to become one of the most popular entertainers of his time in Europe and America.

  • Alton A. Adams

    Biography. Biography. Alton Augustus Adams, born in the Virgin Islands in 1889, remains an iconic figure there. When the United States took over the islands in 1917, the new governor appointed Adams chief musician. The band that Adams assembled entered the U.S. Navy as a unit, making Adams the first black bandmaster to serve in the U.S. Navy. He composed a great deal of ...

  • Margaret MacArthur (1928-2006)

    Biography. Margaret's dedication and devotion to the lyrical ballad has led to her role as a seminal figure in Vermont's traditional music scene. She has participated as collector, as teacher, and as performer at family gatherings, coffee houses, community events, and festival s, both small and large. Over the years the recognition has snowballed -- from the nation's capital, a performance at the Kennedy ...

    • Contributor: Macarthur, Margaret
  • John Wesley Work, III (1901-1967)

    Biography. Resources

    • Contributor: Work, John W. (John Wesley)
  • Henry F. Gilbert (1868-1928)

    Biography. In 1905 he wrote Americanesque, which was a suite for orchestra based on minstrel show tunes. His first major success was Comedy Overture on Negro Themes (1910) for orchestra. He completed a work based on Creole music in 1908, but it was refused a public performance in Boston because of its hybrid style. Gilbert rewrote the work as a ballet, and The Dance ...

  • Billy Golden

    Billy Golden (William B. Shires) (1858–1926) performed in a blackface act in vaudeville beginning in 1874. He made his first recordings for Columbia Records around 1893 and began recording for Eldridge R. Johnson and what would become the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1901. Golden specialized in blackface dialect comedy, with a vivid portrayal of an old-time character full of unrestrained glee and wit. ...

  • Len Spencer

    Len Spencer (1867–1914) was an extremely versatile performer whose somewhat cantankerous-sounding baritone can be heard on many early records, singing ragtime songs, rendering sentimental ballads, reciting speeches of presidents, or doing New York City Bowery dialect comedy sketches with Ada Jones. Spencer's performing career was chiefly based in New York City recording studios. He also operated a booking agency.

  • Will Accooe (d. 1904)

    Biography. Biography. Accooe also composed for other musicals. Williams and Walker's The Sons of Ham (1900) included some Accooe material. He also wrote a musical in 1901 with Will Marion Cook called The Cannibal King, but this was never staged.

  • H. T. Burleigh (1866-1949)

    Biography. Simpson, Anne Key. "Hard Trials: The Life and Music of Harry T. Burleigh." Composers of North America, no. 8. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1990.

  • John Avery Lomax (1867-1948)

    Biography. Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip (American Memory)

    • Contributor: Lomax, Ruby T. (Ruby Terrill) - Lomax, John A. (John Avery)
  • Marie Cahill

    Marie Cahill (1870–1933) was an American singing comedienne who was popular both in vaudeville and on the Broadway stage. She was successful as the star of several Broadway musicals during the early 1900s, most notably Sally in Our Alley, in which she introduced the song "Under the Bamboo Tree." Among her twelve published Victor records is the first recording of a vocal blues selection ...