Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • 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 ...

  • Peter C. Lutkin (1858-1931)

    Biography. In addition to his position as Dean and Director of Choirs at Northwestern University, he also served as Professor of Theory, Piano, Organ, and Composition in the School of Music, 1895-1931; Director of the School's Department of Church and Choral Music, 1926-28; and Lecturer in Church Music at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from Syracuse University. He ...

  • Francis La Flesche (1857-1932)

    Biography. Omaha Indian Music (American Memory)

  • 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 ...

  • 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.

  • Harvey Bartlett Gaul (1881-1945)

    Biography. Gaul's choral compositions include both church anthems and secular cantatas. One of his most enduring works for choir is I Hear America Singing (1925), a setting of Walt Whitman poetry published in separate versions for mixed chorus, women's chorus, and men's chorus with soprano soloist. Today Gaul is memorialized through the Harvey Gaul Composition Competition, a biennial contest created by the Friends 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.

  • 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 ...

  • Vera Hall (1902-1964)

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

  • 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

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  • 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.

  • Gena Branscombe (1881-1977)

    Biography. Branscombe's compositional output includes some 150 art songs, piano and chamber music, a few orchestral works, and a large body of choral pieces. Her most important orchestral work is Quebec Suite from her unfinished opera The Bells of Circumstance. In addition to her many choral compositions for women's voices, she wrote Coventry's Choir (1962), which was widely performed in Great Britain. Her hymn, ...

  • 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 ...

  • William Grant Still, 1895-1978

    Biography. Further Reading

  • Nora Bayes

    Nora Bayes (1880–1928) was a tremendously popular vaudevillian and star of the Broadway musical stage. She is still remembered for the gigantic hit "Shine On, Harvest Moon," which she co-wrote with her then-husband Jack Norworth. Although the title was a success for other artists, the only recording of it made by Norworth and Bayes was never released. Bayes, whose real name was Dora Goldberg, ...

  • 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.

  • Lewis Wade Jones (1910-1979)

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

    • Contributor: Jones, Lewis Wade
  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Robert Sonkin (1911-1980)

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

    • Contributor: Sonkin, Robert
  • 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 ...

  • Arthur Foote (1853-1937)

    Biography. Apart from his notoriety as a composer, Foote was highly regarded as a teacher and writer. He served as a guest lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1911, and taught piano at the New England Conservatory between 1921 and 1937. He co-authored a theory text with Walter R. Spalding, Modern Harmony in Its Theory and Practice (1905, reprinted in 1969 and ...

  • 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 ...

  • John Wesley Work, III (1901-1967)

    Biography. Resources

    • Contributor: Work, John W. (John Wesley)