Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • World War I

    World War I

    In 1920, more than a year after the end of the war, Lambert Murphy released two striking songs with strong religious overtones. "There Is No Death" was written by Geoffrey O'Hara, author of "K-K-K-Katy,"and admonished listeners not to think of the "poppied sod" of Flanders, Belgium where fallen soldiers lay, but of the glorified eternal life that was now theirs. The song was coupled ...

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  • African American Spirituals

    African American Spirituals

    Freedom songs based on spirituals have also helped to define struggles for democracy in many other countries around the world including Russia, Eastern Europe, China and South Africa. Some of today's well-known pop artists continue to draw on the spirituals tradition in the creation of new protest songs. Examples include Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" and Billy Bragg's "Sing their souls back home."

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  • " Dig My Grave," one of "Two Negro Spirituals" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " Dig My Grave," one of "Two Negro Spirituals" by Harry Thack...

    Article. The text and melody of Dig My Grave were taken from Bahama Songs and Stories by Charles L. Edwards. The opening is appropriately somber, marked Grave, and set for four-part men's voices: "Dig my grave long and narrow! Make my coffin long and strong!" At the tempo change to Andante cantabile, the women sing in parallel sixths while the men sustain an open-fifth ...

  • John Avery Lomax (1867-1948)

    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)
  • As Adam Early in the Morning

    As Adam Early in the Morning

    Song Collection. The short poem comes from the "Children of Adam" series of poems in Whitman's Leaves of Grass (1881-82). "As Adam Early in the Morning" is an appropriate finale to this series of poems in that it reaffirms its reiterated theme of Adam in paradise, having awakened, afresh and renewed, and at ease with his own body and his own existence. Whitman's suggestion ...

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  • Irish American Song

    Irish American Song

    In Addition to John McCormack, notable Irish American vocal music artists from the past include Victor Herbert (1859-1924), a Dublin-born conductor and popular composer of operettas; Bing Crosby (1901-1977), a singer and movie star; Gene Kelly (1912–1996), a singer, dancer and movie star; and Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002), a singer and movie star. Contemporary, well-known vocal artists of Irish American descent include Bruce Springsteen, Shania ...

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  • Leonard Bernstein, 1918-1990

    Leonard Bernstein, 1918-1990

    Biography. Bernstein died in New York on October 14, 1990.

    • Contributor: Bernstein, Leonard
    • Date: 1990-10-14
  • Mapping the Songs of the Civil War --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Mapping the Songs of the Civil War -- ...

    Select the highlighted states on this map to view a selection of sheet music pertaining to people, places, or events associated with that state during the Civil War. This can include songs about military figures, battles and campaigns, regiments, and other state-related events or sentiments.

  • Regional Song Sampler: The Northeast

    Regional Song Sampler: The Northeast

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  • Western and Cowboy Songs --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Western and Cowboy Songs -- The Librar...

    Although it is often spoken of in the same breath as "Country" music, "Western" is a distinct area of American popular music whose roots reach into the frontier era of the 19th century. Playlist Five recordings from Library of Congress collections Starving to death on a government claim A pioneer song sung by folklorist Vance Randolph, who learned it in Kansas in his youth. ...

  • Regional Song Sampler: The Northwest

    Regional Song Sampler: The Northwest

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  • Songs of Women's Suffrage

    Songs of Women's Suffrage

    The text of what would become the Ninteenth Amendment was originally drafted by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and introduced to Congress in 1878, then rejected in 1887. The Constitutional ammendement was proposed again in 1914, in 1915, in 1918, and in February 1919, failing to win addequate votes each time, until it was proposed again in May of 1919 and passed. ...

  • Look Down, Fair Moon

    Look Down, Fair Moon

    Song Collection. "Look Down, Fair Moon," is contained in a collection of Rorem's songs, the Five Poems of Walt Whitman, which was published by Boosey and Hawkes in 1970. The song was dedicated to Donald Gramm, who has recorded the song for the Phoenix label. The stark lament has also been championed by mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, recorded for the Erato label in 2000, and ...

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  • Billy Murray

    Billy Murray

    Billy Murray (1877–1954) was perhaps the most prolific recording artist of the acoustic recording era. His distinctive nasal baritonish-tenor voice, which recorded extremely well, and his perfect diction contributed to the popularity of his records. During his career, Murray recorded for nearly every company in existence, most notably for Edison and Victor. Murray's repertoire, while confined to the popular idiom, was wide-ranging. He was ...

  • " O Little Town of Bethlehem" by Peter C. Lutkin

    " O Little Town of Bethlehem" by Peter C. Lutkin

    Article. Lutkin set Brooks's text for alto solo, mixed choir, and organ. The piece is harmonically uncomplicated with smoothly voiced progressions through secondary dominants. The setting is rhythmically interesting as the meter shifts several times between quadruple and triple meter to suit the changes in the text. The accompaniment alternates between a broken-chord texture beneath the melodically lyric segments and a chordal texture to ...

  • Vera Hall (1902-1964)

    Vera Hall (1902-1964)

    Biography. Hall died in January 1964 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

  • The  Chicano Civil Rights Movement

    The Chicano Civil Rights Movement

    In addition to the songs of the Chicano Civil Rights Movment, there are many recordings of Mexican Americans in this presentation, recorded in the 1930s and 1940s. Some of these illustrate the hardships faced by migrant workers of the Dust Bowl era, such as "Yo Cuando era Niño - Mi Padre Querido..." sung by José Suarez. There are also recordings of the descendants of ...

  • Armenian American Song

    Armenian American Song

    The Armenian American community has fostered several notable names in the American vocal music world including the operatic soprano Cathy Berberian (1925-1983); the pop singer Cher, whose father was Armenian (she was born Cheryl Sarkisian); the theatre director Rouben Mamoulian (1897-1987) who introduced the modern musical to Broadway with Oklahoma! in 1943, and the Los Angeles-based heavy metal band System of a Down, whose ...

  • " So Sweet Is She" by Patty Stair

    " So Sweet Is She" by Patty Stair

    Article. Stair sets the text in a chordal style with the melody nearly always in the first tenor voice. It is in three verses—each verse more developed harmonically—and a coda that recalls the final words of each verse: "so white, so soft, so sweet is she." Though it is set with close voicing, Stair avoids any use of "barbershop harmonies," opting instead for sonorities ...

  • Omaha Indian Song

    Omaha Indian Song

    In addition to early cylinder recordings, this presentation includes recordings of performances of songs and speeches at Omaha powwows in the 1983 and a performance by the Hethu'shka Society at the Library of Congress in 1985. Audio recordings of interviews with members of the Omaha tribe in 1983 and 1999 help to explain the meanings and uses of the songs performed. For example, members ...

  • Ned Rorem, b.1923

    Ned Rorem, b.1923

    Biography. While many of the recordings listed here are in the collections of the Library of Congress, not all are. If you have a question about specific recordings, please contact the Recorded Sound Reference Center at 202-707-7833. All recordings listed are protected by applicable Federal and State laws. The Library of Congress cannot provide copies of any of these recordings without proper permission from ...

  • Grief

    Grief

    Song Collection. William Grant Still's setting of LeRoy V. Brant's text was composed in Los Angeles in 1953. According to Judith Anne Still, her father preferred his original title for the song "Weeping Angel." The song was not commercially published until 1955 by the Oliver Ditson Music Company. However, a copy of the manuscript was sent for copyright registration, processed on June 15, 1953, ...

    • Contributor: Still, William Grant
    • Date: 1953-06-15

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  • Charles Lafayette Todd (1911-2004)

    Charles Lafayette Todd (1911-2004)

    Biography. Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection (American Memory).

    • Contributor: Todd, Charles L.
  • Puerto Rican Song

    Puerto Rican Song

    The Puerto Rican musical theatre artists such as Rita Moreno and Chita Rivera have enjoyed long careers on the Broadway stage. Meanwhile the Puerto Rican singer-guitarist-composer José Felciano is known for many international hits including the 1970 Christmas single "Feliz navidad."

  • Sidney Robertson Cowell (1903-1995)
  • Victor Herbert (1859-1924)

    Victor Herbert (1859-1924)

    Biography. Herbert championed composers' rights and was instrumental in advocating for the passage of the American copyright law of 1909. He co-founded, along with John Philip Sousa and Irving Berlin, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers in 1914. He served that landmark organization as a vice-president and director until his death in 1924. He was elected to the National Institute of Arts ...

  • Historical Topics --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Historical Topics -- The Library of Co...

    The history of America is reflected through its songs. Read more about how immigration and migration; work and industry; social change; war and conflict; politics and political campaigns; and sports and leisure in the United States have been portrayed in song. Listen to examples for all.

    • Date: 1581
  • To What You Said

    To What You Said

    Song Collection. Bernstein's setting of Walt Whitman's unpublished poem, "To What You Said," is the fourth song in the cycle. Nearly mistaken as an abandoned scribble, the poem was discovered on the verso of page thirty of the holograph manuscript of Whitman's Democratic Vistas (1871), which is housed in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection at the Library of Congress. Bernstein was reportedly attracted to ...

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  • Regional Sampler: The Southwest

    Regional Sampler: The Southwest

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • Interactive Maps --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Interactive Maps -- The Library of Con...

    See the connection between America's geography and song through interactive maps that offer songs from the states and about the states.

    • Date: 1581
  • " Pirate Song" by Henry F. Gilbert

    " Pirate Song" by Henry F. Gilbert

    Article. The present edition was issued by the H. W. Gray Co. in 1921. Gilbert adapted words from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island with added stanzas by Alice C. Hyde. The opening baritone solo, "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest," elicits the first of many pirate responses, "Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum." The men's chorus sings in unison throughout except ...

    • Date: 1923-05-24
  • Regional Song Sampler: The West

    Regional Song Sampler: The West

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  • Icelandic American Song

    Icelandic American Song

    Article. Part of a multi-format online collection entitled "California Gold: Northern California Music from the Thirties," the songs were collected as part of The WPA California Folk Music Project, a joint effort of the Work Projects Administration, the Library of Congress, and the Music Division of the University of California, Berkeley, to document folk music being actively performed in Northern California. The project, which ...

  • War and Conflict --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    War and Conflict -- The Library of Con...

    War has played no small part in the history of American song. Some of the nation's oldest folk and pop songs celebrate important victories, the experiences of soldiers and sailors, or the loss of loved ones. Playlist for War and Conflict Five recordings from Library of Congress collections describe the business of conflict in a human way. The Waltz must change to a march, ...

  • " In Arcady by Moonlight" by Gena Branscombe

    " In Arcady by Moonlight" 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 (1879-1914) and refers to a mythical utopian place, a pastoral vision in which all is in harmony with nature. The poem begins, "In Arcady by moonlight (where only lovers go), there is a pool where fairest of ...

  • Paul Whiteman

    Paul Whiteman

    Paul Whiteman (1890–1967), billed as "The King of Jazz" by a clever press agent, was perhaps the most visible and easily recognized celebrity of the 1920s. The cherubic, mustachioed maestro was certainly the decade's most famous dance orchestra leader, and his Victor records were always big sellers. His first issued record, "Whispering" and "Japanese Sandman," ushered in a new style of dance music, slimmed ...

  • We Two

    We Two

    Song Collection. Warren has been described as the "only woman among the group of prominent American neo-Romanticists that includes Howard Hansen, Samuel Barber, and Gian Carlo Menotti." She was active up until her death in 1991 at age 91, and created over 200 works throughout her lifetime. Her music is currently enjoying a revival.

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  • Bahamian American Song

    Bahamian American Song

    A relatively new style of music in the 1930s and 40s when these recordings were made was jazz, using the piano and brass instead of, or sometimes in addition to, traditional Bahamian instruments. For example, a traditional version of the Bahamian song "Hoist Up the John B Sail" is sung by Robert Butler accompanied by Theodore "Tea Roll" Rolle. Rolle, a jazz composer, singer, ...

  • Francis James Child and The English and Scottish Popular Ballads

    Francis James Child and The English and Scottish Popular Ballads

    During his years of editing the ballads, Child gained several more distinctions. By taking up a new professorship of English established at Harvard in 1876, Child became America's first English professor. In 1888, at the founding of the American Folklore Society, Child became its first president. The greatest distinction of all, however, was the impact he had on his friends, colleagues and students. He ...

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  • Billy Golden

    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. ...

  • "The  Friends We Love" by Septimus Winner

    "The Friends We Love" by Septimus Winner

    Article. Winner wrote many such ballads during the civil war years. They were perhaps even more popular than those of his contemporary, Stephen Foster. According to Charles Claghorn, author of The Mocking Bird: The Life and Diary of Its Author, Septimus Winner, President Abraham Lincoln's favorite song was Winner's Listen to the Mockingbird, another simple ballad. The appeal of these popular songs was not ...

  • Frank C. Stanley

    Frank C. Stanley

    Frank C. Stanley (1868–1910), a powerful bass-baritone, began his career on records in 1891 as a banjoist, under his real name, William Stanley Grinsted. He adopted his pseudonym to protect his career as a singer of sacred music at a time when making phonograph records was considered low-class. Stanley was as equally at home singing sacred songs or performing "rube," or country, comedy sketches. ...

  • Navajo Song and Dance

    Navajo Song and Dance

    Contemporary Navajo music spans a wide variety of artists exploring various musical genres and incorporating aspects of Navajo musical expression, history, and experience. A few examples include Chucki Begay and the Mother Earth Blues Band, a group that mixes rock and roll, blues, and compositions about the Navajo experience, such as "Long Walk," a song about the Indian removal in 1864; Blackfire, an alternative ...

  • " Hosanna" by Arthur Farwell

    " Hosanna" by Arthur Farwell

    Article. Farwell orchestrated Hosanna for an extraordinary performance in Carnegie Hall by the students of the Third Street Music School Settlement in March 1918. The concert, led by the composer, featured a chorus of eight hundred and an orchestra of two hundred. The highly successful event (for which the stage had to be nearly doubled in size) not only raised a significant amount of ...

  • Rain Has Fallen and I Hear an Army

    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 ...

    • Date: 1936-04-22

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

    " 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," ...

  • "The  Wind and the Day (A Sunset on Yarrow)" by Arthur Foote

    "The Wind and the Day (A Sunset on Yarrow)" by Arthur Foote

    Article. This part-song, one of fifty-two composed by Foote, was dedicated to Horatio Parker (1863–1919), a fellow member of the Second New England School of composers. It sets a pastoral poem by Scottish writer Andrew Lang, who edited the poems and songs of Robert Burns in 1896. The text and music paint a picture of a sunset over the heather. Foote injects chromatic harmonies ...

  • Byron G. Harlan

    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.

  • Musicals --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Musicals -- The Library of Congress Ce...

    The Musical, like jazz, is a quintessentially American art form; and like our country, it has been forged from many influences: comic opera, operetta, English music hall, minstrel shows, vaudeville and others. Musicals are also among the most collaborative of the arts, forged by teams that typically include composers, lyricists, librettists, directors, performers, choreographers, orchestrators, producers, arrangers and designers. Playlist Five recordings from Library ...

  • Songs of Work and Industry --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Songs of Work and Industry -- The Libr...

    During the 400 years of the settlement, territorial expansion, migration, industrialization and urbanization of what would come to be known as the United States, the nature of making a living and the technological and economic factors on which it rested changed profoundly. In colonial North America the economy was overwhelmingly agricultural with farmers producing much of what they needed for themselves and their communities. ...

  • Francis La Flesche (1857-1932)

    Francis La Flesche (1857-1932)

    Biography. Omaha Indian Music (American Memory)

  • The  Daisies

    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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  • Alan Lomax (1915-2002)

    Alan Lomax (1915-2002)

    Biography. Resources

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  • John Knowles Paine (1839-1906)

    John Knowles Paine (1839-1906)

    Biography. Although widely popular during his lifetime, Paine's works dwindled into obscurity as twentieth-century modernism took hold. Recent editions, writings, recordings and performances have brought Paine's music and his importance in American music history to the attention of present-day audiences and scholars.

  • Samuel Barber, 1910-1981

    Samuel Barber, 1910-1981

    Biography. Barber's hallmark among American composers lies in the fact that he embraced his lyrical and expressive compositional style and shunned nearly all of the experimental trends that penetrated music in the first half of the twentieth century. Unlike many of his contemporaries who dabbled with folk music, twelve tone music, or serial music, the majority of Barber's works adhere to traditional European 19th-century ...

  • " Christ is Risen" by Victor Herbert

    " Christ is Risen" by Victor Herbert

    Article. Herbert gained fame primarily through his forty-three operettas. His output, however, also included numerous works for orchestra, band, various instruments, and some twelve choral pieces. He wrote a large-scale cantata, The Captive, op. 25, for the 1891 Worcester (Massachusetts) Festival. His extended anthem for soloists and chorus, Christ is Risen, was premiered at St. Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo, New York, in 1908. A year ...

  • Arthur Collins

    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.

  • 1850 to 1899 --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    1850 to 1899 -- The Library of Congres...

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

    • Date: 1850
  • Peace Songs of the Civil War

    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 ...

  • African American Song

    African American Song

    From rappers like André 3000 (1975–) and pop stars like Michael Jackson (1958–2009), to opera singers like Denyce Graves (1964–) and gospel artists like Yolanda Adams (1961–), African American vocal artists continue to shake up and shape the musical culture of the United States in profound ways.

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  • " Julep Song (The Good Old Mint Julep for Me!)" by Will Marion Cook

    " Julep Song (The Good Old Mint Julep for Me!)" by Will Mario...

    Article. Julep Song was first published in the piano/vocal score of The Southerners in 1904 by York Music Co., New York. The popularity of the piece prompted a solo edition published in the same year by John H. Cook Publishing Co., New York. John H. Cook was Will Marion's brother.

  • Folk Singers, Social Reform, and the Red Scare

    Folk Singers, Social Reform, and the Red Scare

    At the Library of Congress in 2007, Pete Seeger performed examples of sing alongs with audience members, folk songs and activist songs. He presented a new peace song, "Don't Say it Can't be Done," inspired by the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentegon, and harking back to the Mongomery, Alabama Civil Rights bus boycott of 1955.

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  • Regional Song Sampler: The Southeast

    Regional Song Sampler: The Southeast

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • Historic Events in the Civil War: Fort Sumter

    Historic Events in the Civil War: Fort Sumter

    Article. More examples of music's historical narrative are available in the Civil War Sheet Music Collection online.

  • Arthur B. Whiting (1861-1936)

    Arthur B. Whiting (1861-1936)

    Biography. Whiting did not create a large body of work. When asked about his limited productivity, he replied, tongue-in-cheek, that he had been associating with the masters much too long to tolerate his own music any longer. One of his students, however, noted, "As he grew older he came, I think, to regret more rather than less this inhibition of the creative by the ...

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

    Songs of Immigration and Migration -- ...

    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 ...

  • Daniel Gregory Mason (1873-1953)

    Daniel Gregory Mason (1873-1953)

    Biography. In 1913, Mason studied in Paris with Vincent d'Indy, who became his primary compositional influence. A fervent classicist, Mason's instrumental works include three symphonies, more than a dozen chamber pieces, several keyboard compositions, and other orchestral works and transcriptions. He is best known as a composer for his festival overture Chanticleer (1928) and his three symphonies, especially the Lincoln Symphony (1936). His vocal ...

    • Date: 1953-12-04
  • Blackfeet Song

    Blackfeet Song

    Victor recordings of two Blackfeet songs made in 1914 in Glacier Park, Montana are available in this presentation. "White Dog Song" and "Medicine Song" are the titles given on the label of the original recording.

  • Erich Korngold, 1897-1957

    Erich Korngold, 1897-1957

    Biography. Perhaps seeking a respite from his intensely focused work on his large scale Symphonic Serenade for string orchestra (op. 39, 1947-48), Korngold began work on a set of songs which were eventually published as the Fünf Lieder (Five Songs, op. 38), for medium voice and piano. Based on poems from disparate sources (of twentieth century German poet Richard Dehmel; of nineteenth century German ...

    • Date: 1950-02-19
  • Art Song --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Art Song -- The Library of Congress Ce...

    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 ...

  • " I Bring You Heartsease" by Gena Branscombe

    " I Bring You Heartsease" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Also published as a solo song, Branscombe's choral setting (SSA) was issued by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1915. The text, written by the composer, refers to a variety of flowers shared by lovers in springtime. Heartsease, the progenitor of the cultivated pansy, was most likely the flower that yielded a powerful love potion in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Branscombe's musical ...

  • Blues as Protest

    Blues as Protest

    Another example of the use of blues to address social issues are found in African American songs about World War II. Bus Ezell's composition, "Obey the Ration Laws," urges people to comply with war-time rationing, but it also alludes to a difference in compliance and attitudes between poor and wealthy Americans. Buster Brown's "War Song," also performed during World War II, complains of a ...

  • Henry Burr

    Henry Burr

    Henry Burr was the pseudonym adopted by Canadian-born tenor Harry McClaskey (1882–1941) when he began making phonograph records in 1902. The record business was then so poorly regarded that some performers thought using their real names in the new industry could tarnish their reputations. Burr's forward-sounding, nasal voice quality made him instantly recognizable on records, even in the midst of a quartet or chorus. ...

  • " Southern Lullaby" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " Southern Lullaby" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The unaccompanied work opens with the chorus providing a homophonic, hummed accompaniment to the solo soprano melody, "De night am long an' de col' win' roar, Yo' Pappy he doan come hom no mo', sleep li'l' chile, go sleep." Burleigh uses seventh chords and a greater degree of chromaticism than that found in his spiritual settings, e.g., at "An' do he hear yo' ...

  • Bluegrass --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Bluegrass -- The Library of Congress C...

    Bluegrass music is a tradition-based modern style of string band music. Typically a bluegrass band consists of four to seven performers who sing while accompanying themselves on acoustic string instruments such as the guitar, double bass, fiddle, five-string banjo, mandolin, steel guitar, and Dobro. Bluegrass combines elements of old-time mountain music, square dance fiddling, blues, gospel, jazz, and popular music. Like jazz, bluegrass allows ...

  • The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    See and Hear American History Through Song "Know the songs of a country and you will know its history for the true feeling of a people speaks through what they sing." – Preface to The Songs of Henry Clay Work (1884) Listen to the changes in the "Star Spangled Banner" as played by different bands in different eras. Look at the ways in which ...

    • Date: 1581
  • " Weepin' Mary" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " Weepin' Mary" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. Burleigh's setting is austere in its unvaried, quarter-note/half-note rhythm. His harmonic inventiveness is, therefore, all the more telling against such a simple backdrop. After setting the first phrase in diatonic triads in F minor, he repeats that phrase with subtle chromaticisms and one bold progression on "Call upon your Jesus, an' He'll draw near." On the word "Jesus," Burleigh moves from an F-minor ...

  • Parlor and Concert Stage --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Parlor and Concert Stage -- The Librar...

    Music performance in the United States takes place both at home and on the concert stage. Music written for each of these venues has been of equal importance to the development of American music. The performance of secular music in the United States developed, just as it had many centuries earlier in Europe, along two parallel paths. First, musical gatherings in the private homes ...

  • Ada Jones

    Ada Jones

    Ada Jones (1873–1922) began her recording career during the mid-1890s, but did not begin recording prolifically until 1905. By 1906 she was "probably the most popular phonograph singer in the world," according to historian Jim Walsh. She was essentially a singing comedienne whose specialty was dialect comedy of all sorts. Her depictions of a lower-class New York City Bowery maiden in the company of ...

  • Songs of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl Migrants

    Songs of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl Migrants

    "I'm Going Down this Road Feeling Bad," is a traditional song that may date from an earlier period, but that expresses sentiments surely felt by displaced workers during the Great Depression. In this presentation there are versions sung by Warde Ford, who traveled to Wisconsin to California to find work with the CCC and by Dust Bowl migrants Ruth Huber and Lois Judd.

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  • " They that wait upon the Lord" by Arthur B. Whiting

    " They that wait upon the Lord" by Arthur B. Whiting

    Article. Whiting sets this text from Isaiah (40:28-31) as an accompanied verse anthem, a form that alternates between solo and chorus to provide textural variety. In this case the musical contrast is suited to the dichotomy represented in the text. For example, he sets the narrative, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" as a lyric baritone solo. On the other ...

  • Charles Naginski

    Charles Naginski

    Biography. Charles Naginski (1909-1940) was born in Cairo, Egypt. In 1928, he won a fellowship at the Juilliard Graduate School in New York City. During his career, tragically cut short by an accidental drowning in a swimming pool at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, Naginski wrote works for orchestra, string quartet and songs for voice and piano. He did not write many songs, but the ...

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

    Blues -- The Library of Congress Celeb...

    "The blues" is a secular African-American musical genre that has had broad influence in popular music. Blues songs deal with a variety of topics and emotions, though it is often mistakenly thought that they deal almost exclusively with sorrow and protest. Playlist Recordings from the The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip. Shorty George (1939) Performed by Smith Casey, guitar. In ...

  • Russian American Song
  • Finnish American Song

    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 ...

  • " Song for a May Morning" by Patty Stair

    " Song for a May Morning" by Patty Stair

    Article. Patty Stair wrote Song for a May Morning in 1914 to address the needs of the burgeoning women's musical clubs that gained popularity during the first part of the twentieth century. The piece begins with a lively duet between the upper two voices. The alto parts join the texture in close imitation of the top voices. A homophonic section follows featuring more adventurous ...

  • Chinese American Song

    Chinese American Song

    The organization Music From China was founded in 1984 in New York City with the aim of introducing American audiences to Chinese music. The Library of Congress collection includes a webcast of instrumental Chinese music performed by members of Music From China: The Ann Yao Trio: Traditional Chinese Zheng Music from Florida, July 27, 2011.

    • Date: 2011-07-27
  • Captain Pearl R. Nye (1872-1950)

    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  Carol of the Beasts" by Peter C. Lutkin

    "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 ...

  • Len Spencer

    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.

  • Musical Styles --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Musical Styles -- The Library of Congr...

    In its history, America's songs have been performed in many musical styles. Learn more about how these musical styles developed and listen to examples.

  • Sioux Song and Dance

    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 ...

  • John McCormack

    John McCormack

    John McCormack (1884–1945) was an Irish American tenor renowned for his renditions of sentimental Irish-themed songs. He also possessed a fine operatic voice and worked steadily on the opera stage during the early part of his career. Reportedly, he was a self-admitted poor actor and for this reason chose to focus his career on the concert stage and recording studio. McCormack's voice has been ...

  • Opera --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Opera -- The Library of Congress Celeb...

    Since its grand beginnings as Italian court entertainment at the turn of the seventeenth century, opera has been an art form that strives to portray a heightened reality, transporting the audience to a time and place beyond its own. Opera is a seemingly magical concoction of theater, music, and dance that has ignited the imaginations of young and old, rich and poor, for over ...

  • Articles About Songs --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Articles About Songs -- The Library of...

    Original essays and articles are available on this site to help provide historical context and a deeper view for those who wish to learn more about particular topics. The Library's curators have written articles on historical topics and song, musical styles, individual songs, and songs of various ethnic groups in America.

    • Date: 1759
  • The  Boatmen's Dance and Simple Gifts

    The Boatmen's Dance and Simple Gifts

    Song Collection. Copland's holograph sketches for both sets of the Old American Songs can be accessed on-line through the Aaron Copland Collection at the Library of Congress: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/copland/index.html.

    Look inside: 2 results

  • Robert Winslow Gordon (1888-1961)

    Robert Winslow Gordon (1888-1961)

    Biography. Kodish, Debora G. "Good Friends and Bad Enemies": Robert Winslow Gordon and the Study of American Folksong. University of Illinois Press, 1986.

    • Contributor: Gordon, Robert Winslow

    Look inside: 3 results

  • Curator Talks --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Curator Talks -- The Library of Congre...

    The curators of the collections at the Library of Congress give more information about the history of song in the United States in these brief "Curator Talk" videos with the help of illustrations and audio clips.

    • Date: 1759
  • Margaret MacArthur (1928-2006)

    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
  • 1950 to Present --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    1950 to Present -- The Library of Cong...

    Cultural and historical events from 1950 to present related to American song.

    • Date: 1950