Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • 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 ...

  • S. H. Dudley

    S. H. Dudley

    S. H. Dudley was the stage name of Samuel Holland Rous (1864–1947), a self-taught baritone who performed comfortably in both the operatic and popular fields. He began recording in 1900 and soon was associated with the Victor Talking Machine Company as an interpreter of comic songs and as a member the much-recorded Haydn Quartet. In 1903 Dudley became an assistant director of recording for ...

  • Margaret R. Lang (1867-1972)

    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 ...

  • J. Leubrie Hill (John Leubrie), d. 1916

    J. Leubrie Hill (John Leubrie), d. 1916

    Biography. Biography. Florenz Ziegfeld, producer of the Ziegfeld Follies, was impressed enough to buy the rights for a few of the numbers from My Friend from Kentucky including "At the Ball, That's All" to use in his next Follies production. Parts of My Friend from Kentucky also were used in 1914's Darktown Follies, which played in a more conventional Broadway theater; this production was ...

  • Ben Harney, 1872-1938

    Ben Harney, 1872-1938

    Biography. Biography. Harney later played a world tour, leaving the stage in the early 1920s, when health issues made it impossible for him to continue his career. He retired to Philadelphia, where he died in poverty in 1938.

  • 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.

  • Arthur Foote (1853-1937)

    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 ...

  • Septimus Winner (1827-1902)

    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 ...

  • Haydn Quartet

    Haydn Quartet

    Haydn Quartet (pronounced hay-den) was a much-recorded male quartet that most often consisted of tenors John Bieling and Harry Macdonough, baritone S. H. Dudley, and William F. Hooley as bass. Later Reinald Werranrath replaced Dudley. Whereas the American Quartet generally recorded bright, often ragtime-infused popular numbers, the Haydn (later spelled Hayden) Quartet usually sang slower-tempo, statelier, sometimes religious material. They also recorded vernacular selections ...

  • William W. Gilchrist (1846-1916)

    William W. Gilchrist (1846-1916)

    Biography. Biography. Biography. Gilchrist suffered periodic bouts of depression and was unable to conduct at the Mendelssohn Club concerts in 1913. He spent the last 16 months of his life receiving treatment at the Easton Sanatorium in Pennsylvania.

  • Sidney Robertson Cowell (1903-1995)
  • Albert Campbell

    Albert Campbell

    Albert Campbell (1872–1947), a lyric tenor, was a ubiquitous presence on recordings from the mid-1890s until 1924. He is best remembered for the many duets he recorded with Henry Burr. Campbell also recorded with Burr as part of the Peerless Quartet. Among his thousand-plus records, only a handful are solos.

  • Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923)

    Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923)

    Biography. Omaha Indian Music (American Memory)

    • Contributor: Fletcher, Alice C. (Alice Cunningham)
  • John Stark, 1841-1927

    John Stark, 1841-1927

    Biography. Biography. Because of business disagreements, Joplin eventually left Stark for other publishers. Nevertheless, Stark was successful enough to move to New York where he competed with the myriad publishers of Tin Pan Alley. After a profitable career as a ragtime publisher, Stark returned to St. Louis, where he died in November 1927.

  • 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)
  • Gena Branscombe (1881-1977)

    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, ...

  • Joe Jordan

    Joe Jordan

    Biography. Biography. Around 1905, he began a long career as a conductor and composer, working with James Reese Europe on Ernest Hogan's Memphis Students performance troupe. In 1906 he became music director of Chicago's Pekin Theater Orchestra. Jordan also worked in Chicago as a composer and conductor for several musicals. He contributed songs such as "Lovey Joe" to Ziegfeld's 1910 Follies. In 1939 Jordan ...

  • Arthur Pryor

    Arthur Pryor

    Arthur Pryor (1870–1942) was considered to be the world's greatest trombone virtuoso when he was soloist with Sousa's Band during the 1890s. His fame grew when he became Sousa's assistant conductor. In1903 he formed his own concert band, which soon became a fixture at venues such as Asbury Park, New Jersey, and Willow Grove Park, near Philadelphia. Pryor recorded copiously for Victor Records both ...

  • George Washington Johnson

    George Washington Johnson

    George W. Johnson (1846–1914) was the first African American to make phonograph records, for New Jersey Phonograph Company in 1890. His recorded oeuvre consisted of a small repertoire, mainly tunes such as "The Laughing Song," "The Whistling Coon," "The Laughing Coon," and "The Whistling Girl." During his recording career Johnson would record these selections dozens of times, for many different record companies, including Edison, ...

  • Harry Lauder

    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.

  • Vera Hall (1902-1964)

    Vera Hall (1902-1964)

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

  • Michael Daugherty

    Michael Daugherty

    Biography. Michael Daugherty (b. 1954) is one of the most popular American composers of his generation. He is known for evocative compositions inspired by pop culture such as the Metropolis Symphony (1988-93) inspired by the Superman comic book, his opera Jackie O (1997) and the infamous Dead Elvis for solo bassoon and chamber ensemble (1993) which features a bassoonist dressed as Elvis Presley. Daugherty's ...

  • Aaron Copland, 1900-1990

    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:

  • 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. ...

  • 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 ...

  • Scott Joplin, 1868-1917

    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 (

  • J. Rosamond Johnson (John Rosamond), 1873-1954

    J. Rosamond Johnson (John Rosamond), 1873-1954

    Biography. Biography. When World War I broke out, Johnson received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 15th Regiment. After the war, he toured with his own groups, and even sang and played the part of a lawyer in the original production of Porgy and Bess in 1935. J. Rosamond Johnson died in New York City on November 11, 1954.

  • Henry Clay Work

    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 ...

  • Robert Sonkin (1911-1980)

    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
  • Alan Lomax (1915-2002)

    Alan Lomax (1915-2002)

    Biography. Resources

  • Henry F. Gilbert (1868-1928)

    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

    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. ...

  • Stephen Collins Foster, 1826-1864

    Stephen Collins Foster, 1826-1864

    Austin, William W. "Susanna", "Jeanie", and "The Old Folks at Home": The Songs of Stephen C. Foster from His Time to Ours. 2d ed. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

  • Sidney Perrin

    Sidney Perrin

    Biography. Biography. Perrin also had a production company. Sid Perrin's High Flyers Company produced at least two shows--Show Folks (1920) and High Flyers (1921).

  • Ruby Terrill Lomax (1886-1961)

    Ruby Terrill Lomax (1886-1961)

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

  • Horatio W. Parker (1863-1919)

    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 ...

  • John Larkins

    John Larkins

    Biography. Biography. John Larkins was a minor figure in black music in the early part of the 20th century. He ran "Jolly" John Larkin's Company and employed James Reese Europe as its musical director from 1906-07. In 1910 he produced and starred in A Trip to Africa. His other credits include Royal Sam (1911) and Deep Central (1932).

  • 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.
  • Homer A. Rodeheaver

    Homer A. Rodeheaver

    Homer Rodeheaver (1880–1955) was a trombone-playing, baritone-voiced evangelist who served as music director for the preacher Billy Sunday. Rodeheaver was known for his charismatic nature and sense of humor. He introduced jaunty, rhythmic songs into his programs and often led choirs with his trombone playing. He began recording in 1913, making many sides for Victor. He was also a music publisher and the owner ...

  • Original Dixieland Jazz Band

    Original Dixieland Jazz Band

    Original Dixieland Jazz Band became immensely popular when the group began recording for Victor Records in 1917. Their discs are viewed as the very first jazz records issued. The group consisted of five men, all from New Orleans: Nick LaRocca, cornet; Eddie Edwards, trombone; Larry Shields, clarinet; Henry Ragas, piano; and Tony Sbarbaro, drums. They played in an ensemble style that became the model ...

  • Lewis Wade Jones (1910-1979)

    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
  • 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 ...

  • 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.

  • Will Marion Cook (1869-1944)

    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 ...

  • Bert Williams, 1874-1922

    Bert Williams, 1874-1922

    Biography. Biography. Williams was also one of the most prolific black performers on recordings, making around 80 recordings from 1901-22. Indeed, his first recording sessions with George Walker for the Victor Company in 1901 are considered the first recordings by black performers for a major recording company. Williams signed with Columbia in 1906 and the majority of his recordings were with that company, including ...

  • Luckey Roberts, 1887-1968

    Luckey Roberts, 1887-1968

    Biography. Biography. Roberts recorded two unissued solo piano sides for Columbia in 1916. These were his compositions "Shoo Fly" and "Shy and Sly." Although he accompanied other artists in late-1920s recordings, he did not record again under his name until 1946. Roberts performed as a vaudvevillian singer, dancer, and pianist in the United States and Europe. He also organized and conducted his own ensembles, ...

  • William F. Hooley

    William F. Hooley

    William F. Hooley (1861–1918) was an Irish-born bass singer who recorded prolifically during the early 1900s. He sometimes recorded as a soloist, but more frequently lent his resonant basso to early recording vocal ensembles such as the American Quartet, Haydn Quartet, Lyric Trio, and Orpheus Quartet. Hooley's recording career began in the mid 1890s and lasted until his death in 1918. He also sang ...

  • Jack Norworth

    Jack Norworth

    Jack Norworth (1879–1959) was a well-known song-and-dance man who was active in vaudeville and on the Broadway stage during the early years of the twentieth century. His most famous stage appearances were made with his then-wife, Nora Bayes, with whom he composed the smash-hit song "Shine On, Harvest Moon." Norworth recorded for Victor both as a soloist and in duet with Bayes. His voice ...

  • Nellie Melba

    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 ...

  • Patty Stair (1869-1926)

    Patty Stair (1869-1926)

    Biography. Stair's compositions include two light operas, an intermezzo for orchestra, some fifty songs, anthems, and instrumental works for violin, piano, and organ. Some of her better-known pieces are Minuet and Little Dutch Lullaby (for women's voices), and These Are They, an anthem for mixed voices. Her many unpublished songs were donated to the Library of Congress in 1917. Never married, Stair died of ...

  • Willis Laurence James (1900-1966)

    Willis Laurence James (1900-1966)

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

    • Contributor: James, Willis
  • Sidney Homer

    Sidney Homer

    Biography. Sidney Homer (1864-1953) studied with George Chadwick in Boston, and with others in Germany. In 1895, he married contralto Louise Beatty (Homer), a world-renown opera singer who sang often at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The two lived in New York beginning in 1900 and Sidney Homer began to write songs for his wife to include in her recitals. Homer ...

    • Contributor: Homer, Sidney
  • Bob Cole, 1868-1911

    Bob Cole, 1868-1911

    Biography. Biography. James Weldon Johnson later referred to Cole as "the single greatest force in the middle period of the development of black theatricals in America." Although he is still not well known today, history bears out much of Johnson's claim. Cole was one of the handful of truly pioneering black composers and performers of his time.

  • Horace Weston, 1825-1890

    Horace Weston, 1825-1890

    Biography. Biography. One of Weston's principal champions was Samuel Swain Stewart, a proponent of the banjo, who published pieces by Weston and other banjo players. Among Weston's compositions are: "Horace Weston's Home Sweet Home," "Horace Weston's New Schottische," "Horace Weston's Old-Time Jig," "The Egyptian Fandango," and "Weston's Great Minor Jig."

  • 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
  • Edward Alexander MacDowell (1860-1908)

    Edward Alexander MacDowell (1860-1908)

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

  • R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)

    R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)

    Biography. Dett was opposed to the style of "swinging the spirituals" that was becoming popular during the 1930s. He held a poll among his students at Bennett College regarding their opinions of the popular style. One of his students, reflecting Dett' s teaching, wrote: "I like the music, but I don't like the way it was sung. . . . I think it lowers ...

  • Mabel Daniels (1878-1971)

    Mabel Daniels (1878-1971)

    Biography. Upon her return to America, Daniels joined Boston's Cecilia Society, where she was exposed to modern choral works with orchestra. She assumed the directorship of Radcliffe's glee club and the Bradford Academy music program (1911-13). In 1913, she was appointed head of music at Simmons College, where she served through 1918. She later established composition prizes and funds at Radcliffe to aid music ...

  • Peerless Quartet

    Peerless Quartet

    Peerless Quartet, a popular and long-lived ensemble, was organized in 1906 by bass Frank C. Stanley. The quartet's sound was built around the clear-toned and easily recognizable tenor of Henry Burr. Upon Stanley's death in 1910, Burr became its manager and was the one constant member of the group until its dissolution in 1928. The Peerless Quartet began recording for Victor Records in 1908.

  • 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 ...

  • Benjamin Shook

    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 ...

  • Chris Smith, 1879-1949

    Chris Smith, 1879-1949

    Biography. Biography. Chris Smith "wrote songs that pointed to black folk styles," according to music historian Eileen Southern. One of his biggest hits, "Good Morning, Carrie," was recorded as early as 1901. Both black and white musicals of the first decade of the 20th century used many of his songs as "interpolations,"or extra songs not especially connected to the plot. Some interpolations were "He's ...

  • 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 ...

  • Amy Beach (1867-1944)

    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 ...

  • Maceo Pinkard, 1897-1962

    Maceo Pinkard, 1897-1962

    Biography. Biography. Composer Maceo Pinkard was born in Bluefield, West Virginia, in 1897. After his "Oh, You Darktown Regimental Band" was published in 1920 by the first black-owned music publishing company, Pace and Handy, Pinkard went on to write music for the shows Bon Bon Buddy, Jr. (1922), Liza (1922), and Broadway Rastus (1925 edition). He also composed several blues songs as well as ...

  • Marion Harris

    Marion Harris

    Marion Harris (ca. 1896–1944) was a popular singer of popular songs and Tin Pan Alley blues. A native of Kentucky, Harris sang with a trace of a warm southern accent. She was best known as a cabaret singer but also worked in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in some films. She began recording for Victor in 1916 and waxed the first vocal version of the ...

  • 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.

  • 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
  • Nathaniel Shilkret

    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.

  • Noble Sissle, 1889-1975

    Noble Sissle, 1889-1975

    Biography. Biography. Sissle also founded the Negro Actors Guild. Known as the unofficial mayor of Harlem, he died in December 1975.

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • John Wesley Work, III (1901-1967)

    John Wesley Work, III (1901-1967)

    Biography. Resources

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

    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 ...

  • Charles Griffes,1884-1920

    Charles Griffes,1884-1920

    Upton, William Treat. "The Songs of Charles T. Griffes." Musical Quarterly 9, no. 3 (July 1923): 314-28.

  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, 1875-1912

    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.

  • Dudley Buck (1839-1909)

    Dudley Buck (1839-1909)

    Biography. Biography. Biography. In 1898, Buck was honored by election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Eleven years later, on October 6, 1909, the composer died at the age of 70.

  • Montague Ring

    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.

  • 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 ...

  • Six Brown Brothers

    Six Brown Brothers

    Six Brown Brothers were a popular sextet of saxophonists. Originally, the group was composed primarily of male siblings who worked under the leadership of their brother Tom. They recorded for the Emerson, Columbia, and Victor record companies. The group's wide-ranging repertoire included ragtime, marches, operatic arias, and comical-novelty selections such as "Chicken Reel." The sextet's rich and harmonious timbre blended the sounds of the ...

  • J. Tim Brymn, 1881-1946

    J. Tim Brymn, 1881-1946

    Biography. Biography. After the revival of black musicals in 1921, Brymn immediately returned to stage work, appearing in Put and Take and conducting the orchestra for Liza. In 1923 Brymn introduced the "Black Bottom" dance to the world at large as part of the musical Dinah. Brymn also wrote several blues songs during the 1920s blues craze. In the 1930s Brymn conducted American military ...

  • American Quartet

    American Quartet

    American Quartet was the name given to several recording vocal quartets during the early years of the record industry. The name was used as early as 1899 for a group that included tenors John Bieling and Jere Mahoney, baritone S. H. Dudley, and bass William F. Hooley. The best-known American Quartet made its first appearance in 1909 for Victor Records and served as an ...

  • Herman Wade

    Herman Wade

    Biography. Biography. Very little is known of Herman Wade. He may be the same person as Herman Avery Wade (and may also have been known as Edwin E. Wilson) who worked for the Aeolian Corporation from 1904-23 as a piano roll arranger. Songs attributed him include "I Want to be Loved Like a Leading Lady" (1908), "Hindoo Honey" (1907), and "I've Got a Pain ...

  • Francis Hopkinson, 1737-1791

    Francis Hopkinson, 1737-1791

    Upton, William Treat. Art-Song in America: A Study in the Development of American Music. Boston: Oliver Ditson Co., 1930.

  • Reinald Werrenrath

    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 ...

  • Juan Bautista Rael (1900-1993)

    Juan Bautista Rael (1900-1993)

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

  • William Grant Still, 1895-1978

    William Grant Still, 1895-1978

    Biography. Further Reading

  • William H. Tyers, 1876-1924

    William H. Tyers, 1876-1924

    Biography. Biography. One of the first black composers to join ASCAP, Tyers died in 1924.

  • Eubie Blake, 1883-1983

    Eubie Blake, 1883-1983

    Biography. Biography. Blake was one of the principle figures of the ragtime and early jazz revival of the 1970s, giving talks and performances well into his nineties. In 1979 the musical Eubie was created from his work; Blake himself made several cameo appearances in performances. Eubie Blake passed away shortly after his 100th birthday.

  • 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.
  • Nora Bayes

    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, ...

  • May Aufderheide, 1888-1972

    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."

  • 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.

  • H. T. Burleigh (1866-1949)

    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.

  • Alma Gluck

    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.

  • Francis La Flesche (1857-1932)

    Francis La Flesche (1857-1932)

    Biography. Omaha Indian Music (American Memory)

  • Will Accooe (d. 1904)

    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.

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Harvey Bartlett Gaul (1881-1945)

    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 ...