Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Rhythm and Blues -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    The term "rhythm and blues," often called "R&B," originated in the 1940s when it replaced "race music" as a general marketing term for all African American music, though it usually referred only to secular, not religious music. The term first appeared in commercial recording in 1948, when RCA Victor records began using "blues and rhythm" music as a descriptor for African American secular songs. ...

  • An Old Song Resung

    Song Collection. In addition to housing the published edition of the song, the Music Division at the Library of Congress is also the repository of the holograph version of Griffes's "An Old Song Re-sung," acquired from Griffes's family in 1923. By studying the manuscript in the composer's hand, scholars and musicians can appreciate Griffes's penmanship as well as his attention to detail.

  • "The Carol of the Beasts" by Peter C. Lutkin

    Article. According to Pauline Graybill Kennel, Lutkin's biographer, he seemed to be at his best when composing shorter works. Carol of the Beasts, only four pages long, is an unaccompanied arrangement of a simple Christmas song by George Coleman Gow, professor of music at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, from 1895 to 1932. The four verses are set for a solo voice or small ...

  • Charles Ives, 1874-1954

    Swafford, Jan. Charles Ives : A Life With Music. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.

  • "The Lonely Rose, op. 43" by Margaret Ruthven Lang

    Article. The voice parts are marked meticulously with frequent crescendo and diminuendo marks, often two per bar in several successive measures. The piano part also contains highly detailed pedal markings and even fingerings for some difficult passages. Lang's father was a student of Franz Liszt, so her piano accompaniments may contain her father's editorial suggestions that reflect Liszt's style.

  • Finnish American Song

    Today, choral music continues to be sung in parts of the United States among the Finnish American community. The Naselle Finn-Am Choir, a community chorus that sings everything from Finnish folk songs to gospel songs in both Finnish and English, anchors the lineup of the biennial Finnish American Folk Festival held in Naselle, Washington. A modern day and creative expression of this continuing tradition ...

  • Reinald Werrenrath

    Reinald Werrenrath (1883–1953) was an American baritone of great versatility who sang on several hundred Victor recordings, both as a soloist and as part of vocal ensembles. Among the groups in which he participated were the Orpheus Quartet, Lyric Quartet, Victor Light Opera Company, and Trinity Choir. Werrenrath performed for a few seasons at the Metropolitan Opera beginning in 1919. He also taught at ...

  • Christensen's Ragtime Review

    The photographs and illustrations of the "Czar" were in and of themselves telling statements. In many ads, Christensen is depicted in formal attire, seated at a grand piano. As his hands fly over the keyboard, his right foot is placed behind the stool, bracing his body as he tears through a performance. Even the tails of his tuxedo fly up from the motion of ...

  • Aaron Copland, 1900-1990

    Biography. Further information, including holograph manuscripts, sketches, letters, and other primary resources are available through the Library of Congress's on-line presentation of the Aaron Copland Collection: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/copland.

  • You're a Grand Old Flag

    Article. With and without Ethel Levey George Washington, Jr. ran from February 12, 1906 to April 23, 1906 and, following a national tour, had a one month return engagement in New York from February 11 through March 11, 1907.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • The Banks of the Yellow Sea

    Article. Among the composers who benefited by having works included in the issues of New Music were Ruth Crawford, Charles Ives, Wallingford Riegger, and Carl Ruggles, and Virgil Thomson. Ernst Bacon, who contributed over 200 works to the American art song canon, also benefited from this publication when his Six Songs appeared in the January 1942 issue. The collection features Bacon's settings of the ...

  • May Aufderheide, 1888-1972

    Biography. Biography. Despite a serious grounding in art music, Aufderheide turned her attentions to ragtime. Her first rag, "Dusty," was published in 1908, the same year that she wed Thomas Kaufman. The early years of her marriage inspired a series of other compositions, among them "The Richmond Rag," "The Thriller Rag," and the "Novelty Rag."

  • Evening Song

    Song Collection. "Evening Song" is set to a text by Sidney Lanier (1842-1881), an American from the South who fought in the Civil War. It is worth noting that Lanier himself was also a musician – indeed, a talented flutist who sat first chair with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore in 1873 – and, as a result, his poetry often exhibits a musical ...

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  • Margaret R. Lang (1867-1972)

    Biography. Lang was self critical of her works and frequently destroyed them. None of her orchestral works are extant. After her father's death in 1909, she became caretaker of her elderly mother. She stopped composing in 1919. A zealous Episcopalian, she published a series of devotional pamphlets titled "Messages from God" between 1927 and 1939. At her own expense, she printed and distributed 6,000 ...

  • The Daisies

    Song Collection. While the charm of "The Daisies" lies in the combination of the graceful melody with the asymmetrical textual underlay, the holograph manuscript suggests that Barber initially favored a more dissonant opening melodic phrase. Perhaps at the suggestion of his composition teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music, Rosario Scalero, Barber removed the accidentals prior to publication to form the song's diatonic opening. ...

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  • Horatio W. Parker (1863-1919)

    Biography. Parker's most impressive accomplishments within the choral genre are his large-scale sacred works. His first oratorio, Hora novissima, is considered by many to be his masterpiece. Composed in 1893 for the Church Choral Society of New York, the oratorio is an eleven-movement setting of medieval Latin poetry by Bernard de Morlaix. The holograph is in the holdings of the Music Division, Library of ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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). ...

  • 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.

  • Songs of Immigration and Migration -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    As Europeans colonized North America, beginning with the Spanish and French in the 1500s and the British and Dutch in the early 1600s, colonists brought their cultural entertainments along with them. Songs brought to colonial America continued to be sung in their early forms, so that later scholars of songs and ballads, such as the British ethnomusicologist Cecil Sharp and American ballad scholar Francis ...

  • The Dissemination of "Amazing Grace"

    Article. Article. NOTES:1. Hymns were (and still are) known by two titles: one, the first line of their texts and two, the name of the hymn tune to which the text is sung. Hence, one tune serve for a number of texts. [back to text] 2. Amazing Grace (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 114. [back to text] 3. Ibid. 126. [back to text]

  • " Christ Jesus Comes from Heavenly Height" by Peter C. Lutkin

    Article. For much of his life, Lutkin composed original carols as Christmas card greetings. Child Jesus Comes from Heavenly Height was one of two such greetings later published by H. W. Gray. It is a simple, strophic a cappella setting—in two verses with refrains—of a translated poem by Hans Christian Anderson. The verse begins with a unison descending line that separates into four parts ...

  • 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 ...

  • Library of Congress March

    Article. One particular hurdle was the brevity of the 'dog fight' section. The piano draft was too short here, and seemed undeveloped. Fortunately, one of the early fragment sketches had some melodic scribbles (nearly indecipherable) that turned out to match the places where the piano draft seemed incomplete. With this the 'dog fight' was filled out and the form came together nicely.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • " Home on the Range"

    In 1947, "Home on the Range" became the state song of Kansas.