• Edward Alexander MacDowell (1860-1908)

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

  • 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 ...

  • "Festival Hymn" by Dudley Buck

    Article. The composer provides his own celebratory text that extols the power of music to unite nations. At the midpoint, Buck's music climaxes on the words "O blessed bond 'twixt the high and the lowly," which is answered more prayerfully, "Thy language is known to each nation." In the quietest moment women sing on a simple tonic triad, "O Music," which is answered by ...

  • "The Old Man with a Beard (1907)" by Margaret Ruthven Lang

    Article. In Lang's setting of Lear's The Old Man with a Beard (1907), the piano part is filled with twittering figures to represent the two owls, one hen, four larks, and a wren who built their nests in the man's beard. He relates the problem, according to Lang's musical direction, "with anguish."

  • "While Shepherds Watched (1889)" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    Article. Chadwick railed against the unschooled output of popular songwriters flooding the market to the exclusion of what he called "true music." In his 1876 paper on popular music reform, he complained about lack of originality in the popular music of the day. "Those who furnish the popular music have not paid, either in money or in mental discipline, the price of true and ...

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

    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.

  • 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 ...

  • " Long, Long the Night" by Daniel Gregory Mason

    Article. The first two verses Mason sets using mildly chromatic harmonies with a few seventh and ninth chords. In the third verse, however, he suddenly injects extreme dissonance to capture the pathos of the text, "Hear me, Powers Divine. Oh, in pity hear me. Take all else of mine, but my Chloris spare me!" The chord on "Chloris" contains both an E-natural and an ...

  • 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 ...

  • " Dance of Gnomes" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. In dramatic contrast to Cradle Song, the song Dance of Gnomes sets a text by MacDowell that is jarring, spooky, and humorous. The Gnomes, also called "Flower Fairies," conjure up shadows, moonlight, dark forests, and magic spells. Later in the work they call themselves "ugly, hairy imps," "ugly noddles" (noddle is the nape of the neck, back of the head), and "willful hussies." ...

  • Ernest Bloch and the Library of Congress

    Courtesy of Musical America

  • "O Holy Child of Bethlehem (1896)" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    Article. Chadwick's setting of this text is for alto solo, chorus, and organ. It uses mostly simple diatonic harmonies until the climax at the text "Come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel." He employs successive diminished chords and widely-spaced voicing at "Our Lord," after which the harmony subsides into largely subdominant/tonic alternations.

  • William H. Tyers, 1876-1924

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

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

    • Date: 1926-04-26
  • 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.

    • Date: 1954-11-11
  • "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 ...

  • "Through the House Give Glimmering Light, op. 39, no. 3" by Amy Beach

    Article. Article. Beach's thirty works for women's chorus are a significant part of her output. They include major choral/orchestra cantatas such as The Chambered Nautilus, op. 66, (1907), commissioned by the St. Cecilia Club of New York. The demand for women's chorus repertoire grew exponentially in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Women's musical clubs flourished in the years following the 1893 meeting ...

  • 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.

  • "O How Amiable" by Dudley Buck

    Article. Buck's sacred compositions include large-scale works, four cantatas, 55 anthems and 20 sacred songs. He played a central role in the development of organ and choral music in the United States.

  • 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.

  • " Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The SSA version of the spiritual was arranged by Nathaniel Clifford Page (1866-1956) and published simultaneously with the version for solo voice. Burleigh alternates quietly intense refrains with declamatory forte verses. Page cleverly moves the melody between the top two voices and gives the alto a bit of contrapuntal interest at the beginning each verse. Burleigh's startling augmented harmony on the word "seen" ...

  • " Ojalá" from "The Spanish Gypsy" by Patty Stair

    Article. The piano accompaniment is also reminiscent of flamenco music. The left hand of the accompaniment provides a driving rhythmic ostinato imitating a pizzicato bass, while the right hand alternates between chords and short melodies moving in parallel thirds. Similarly, the top two choral parts are often set in moving thirds and ornamented, while the alto voices are set in a more sustained style. ...

  • " 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 ...