Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Morton Harvey

    Morton Harvey (1886–1961) was, according to Victor advertising, a tenor. But in reality he had a baritone voice range that he exhibited on many recordings—not only for Victor, but also for Edison, Columbia, and Emerson. On October 2, 1914 he recorded, for Victor, what appears to be the first vocal blues on record, W. C. Handy's "Memphis Blues." Harvey had a successful career in ...

  • Captain Pearl R. Nye (1872-1950)

    Biography. Captain Pearl R. Nye: Life on the Ohio and Erie Canal (American Memory).

    • Contributor: Nye, Pearl R.
  • The Sea

    Article. MacDowell's Eight Songs, op. 47, come from his last period of song composition. Written in 1893 while living in Boston, these songs were penned when MacDowell was at the height of his fame as a composer. The second to last song in the set, "The Sea," is perhaps one of MacDowell's finest songs. Set to a text by William Dean Howells, "The Sea" ...

  • Peace Songs of the Civil War

    Peace songs during and in aid of recovery from a civil war were one thing, peace songs and other expressions of pacifism during a foreign war might be seen as sedition. Mark Twain wrote his pacificist narrative poem "The War Prayer" in about 1904, in response to the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902. [2] Although the poem was written after the war, it tells of ...

  • 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). ...

  • James Scott, 1885-1938

    Biography. Biography. Scott, Joplin, and Joseph Lamb form the acknowledged triumvirate of ragtime greats. In many ways, Scott's pieces were more virtuosic than those of his two colleagues'--except for some of Lamb's "heavy" rags.

  • " Come, O Thou Traveler" by Harvey Bartlett Gaul

    Article. At the second stanza, "Yield to me now, for I am weak," Gaul changes the key to C major and the texture to solo quartet. The full chorus reenters at "'Tis Love! Thou die'st for me." The work climaxes on a C-major chord in second inversion with the sopranos on a high G, "Pure universal Love, Thou art to me, Thou art to ...

  • " Pretty to Me" by Septimus Winner

    Article. Pretty to Me is lyrical, gentle, soft, and sentimental. Its melody is limited to an octave and consists of four verses. The melody for the second two stanzas of the verse nearly mirrors that of the first two stanzas. Each verse is followed by a homophonic choral refrain on the words "pretty to me."

  • America the Beautiful

    Article. "America the Beautiful" has been called "an expression of patriotism at its finest." It conveys an attitude of appreciation and gratitude for the nation's extraordinary physical beauty and abundance, without triumphalism. It has also been incorporated into a number of films including The Sandlot and The Pentagon Wars. Its lyricist, Katharine Lee Bates, died March 28, 1929, and is buried in Falmouth, Massachusetts, ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Juan Bautista Rael (1900-1993)

    Biography. Hispano Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection (American Memory).

  • Patrick Conway

    Patrick Conway (1867–1929) was a famed bandmaster whose career was strongly associated with the city of Ithaca, New York. Conway became the conductor of the Ithaca Band in 1895 and in 1908 used that group as the foundation for his own Patrick Conway Band, with which he toured. Conway made records for the Victor, Edison, Okeh, Pathé, Gennett, and Paramount record companies. He is ...

  • 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 ...

  • Byron G. Harlan

    Byron G. Harlan (1861–1936) was a versatile tenor who specialized in sentimental ballads. He also performed as a comedian and frequently recorded in the character of a "rube" in sketches with Frank C. Stanley. Harlan is best known as the higher-pitched half of the duo Collins and Harlan, with baritone Arthur Collins. He began recording for Victor Records in 1901.

  • " Breathe on Us, Breath of God" by Arthur Farwell

    Article. Farwell's strophic setting (four verses followed by a brief "Amen") contains colorful harmonies and unexpected voice leading that beautifully embellishes the text. For example, the soprano's opening tritone leads to an unusual dissonance on the word "breath" resolving to an F-major triad on "God." The return of this striking chord at the end of each verse, as well as in the concluding "Amen," ...

  • Sioux Song and Dance

    Some of the Sioux songs that are used in display dancing at powwows and other events reflect contacts with other Plains tribes – song genres that are shared. For example, the Sioux Omaha Dance songs were sung in honor of war heroes. In this presentation Dallas Chief Eagle of the Rosebud Lakota tribe and Jasmine Pickner of the Crow Creek Sioux tribe explain and ...

  • Beautiful Dreamer

    For his songs composed after 1860, Foster turned his creative energy to the parlor ballad, a type of song noted for its sentimental or narrative text, frequently at a slow tempo. The subjects of Foster's ballads were relatively free of minstrel-song influences and centered on topics devoid of southern themes, such as mother, love, and home. With its lilting triplet rhythm, "Beautiful Dreamer" exemplifies ...

  • Septimus Winner (1827-1902)

    Biography. In addition to his music writing and publishing, Winner was a frequent contributor to Graham's Magazine, at that time edited by Edgar Allen Poe. He wrote a book of poetry, published posthumously, titled Cogitations of a Crank at Three Score Years and Ten(Philadelphia: Drexer Biddle Press, 1903). Other private writings were later published in The Mocking Bird: The Life and Diary of Its ...

  • Enrico Caruso

    Enrico Caruso (1873—1921) was widely regarded as the finest oper atic tenor of his day; he certainly was the most famous. He was probably the fir st celebrity whose fame as a recording artist equaled the renown he enjoyed on t he stage. It is estimated that 5 million single-sided Caruso discs were sold dur ing his lifetime. Caruso's first important performance was in ...

  • Harry Macdonough

    Harry Macdonough (John Scantlebury Macdonald) (1871–1931) recorded both as a soloist and as a member of the prolific Haydn Quartet. The Canadian-born tenor made his first recordings in 1900 and reportedly appeared on over 1000 titles. He also worked as an assistant recording director for Victor Records.

  • " 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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  • French American Song

    The worlds of French opera and French American folksong came together in the person of Eva Gauthier, a Canadian mezzo-soprano who sang operatic roles but specialized in recitals and concerts of arias and art songs. A world traveler as well as a singer, she sang throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand before World War I, and lived in the United States during ...

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  • African-American Band Stocks

    Article. Article. All of these composers wrote hit music, heard in hotel restaurants as well as in the small-town bandstands of America. This music still retains its ability to delight.

  • Rain Has Fallen and I Hear an Army

    Song Collection. The first two songs of the collection received their premiere in Rome at the Villa Aurelia at the American Academy on 22 April 1936, with Barber accompanying himself at the piano. The third song was heard nearly a year later, on 7 March 1937, at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with mezzo-soprano Rose Bampton accompanied by the composer. "I Hear ...

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  • 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.