Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • 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).

  • " He Met Her in a Meadow" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. Burleigh's He Met Her in a Meadow was first published for solo male voice in 1921. G. Ricordi & Co., New York, published versions for mixed chorus, men's chorus, and women's chorus in 1922. Burleigh wrote the song's lyrics about a young farmer's late-evening flirtation. The musical setting is melodramatic and sentimental, foreshadowed in the tempo direction, Andante con molto sentimento. The ostensible ...

  • The Golden Willow Tree

    Song Collection. The text of "The Golden Willow Tree" is the most extensive of the collection, featuring a fairly lengthy narrative tale of maritime exploits. Although Copland completely modified the contour of the melodic line, he retained the modal ambiguities found in the original folksong. Copland's reworking of the melody for "The Golden Willow Tree" can be found in the holograph sketches of the ...

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  • 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 ...

  • " 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 ...

  • Billy Johnson, 1858-1916

    Biography. Biography. After a period in Chicago, where Johnson got married, dabbled in politics, wrote some songs, and appeared in the last Pekin Stock Company production, he returned to the New York stage around 1911. The last show he performed in was Twenty Miles from Home in 1914. Billy Johnson died in 1916 after a fall.

  • " O Bless the Lord, My Soul" by John Knowles Paine

    Article. Paine deviates from Watts's original poetry, written in 1719, several times. Watts's phrase, "And makes thee young again," appears in Paine's setting as, "And makes thee strong again." The original phrase "He that redeemed my soul from hell" appears as "And he from everlasting death." For his musical setting, Paine chose a version of Watts's text published in the 1853 Unitarian Hymns for ...

  • The 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago

    There was an active and vital local and national music press in America by this time, but in the days before radio, and with the recording business in its technical and commercial infancy, no performer could wish for greater national exposure than that afforded by a succesful engagement at the Columbian Exposition.

  • Library of Congress March

    Article. One particular hurdle was the brevity of the 'dog fight' section. The piano draft was too short here, and seemed undeveloped. Fortunately, one of the early fragment sketches had some melodic scribbles (nearly indecipherable) that turned out to match the places where the piano draft seemed incomplete. With this the 'dog fight' was filled out and the form came together nicely.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • 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 ...

  • "The Old Person of Cassel (1905)" by Margaret Ruthven Lang

    Article. In her SATB [soprano, alto, tenor, bass] setting with piano accompaniment of Lear's The Old Person of Cassel (1905), she humorously interjects numerous "ha, ha," responses to each line of text. The nose of the old person of Cassel was "finished off in a tassel," which Lang paints with a stuttering musical figurethat sounds like a stifled sneeze.

  • William Grant Still, 1895-1978

    Biography. Further Reading

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Malian American Song

    There are many well-known Malian singers who tour extensively in the United States, or that have taken up more-or-less full-time residency in the country, such as Adjaratou "Tapani" Demba and Makane Kouyaté. In recent years Malian performers fled their homeland in droves as newly influential followers of an ultraconservative brand of Islamic law, in this moderate Muslim country, have violently banned most artists. This ...

  • Stetson Kennedy (1911-2011)

    Biography. A founding member and past president of the Florida Folklore Society, Kennedy is a recipient of the Florida Folk Heritage Award and the Florida Governor's Heartland Award.

    • Contributor: Kennedy, Stetson
  • 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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  • "Ponder My Words" by William W. Gilchrist

    Article. Gilchrist's 1915 anthem Ponder My Words was one of the works chosen for a service celebrating the centennial of his birth in 1946. The service was held at New Jerusalem Church in Philadelphia. The anthem opens with a soprano solo singing an expressive setting of the Psalm-Five text. At "consider my meditation," an extended diatonic sequence leads to a choral repetition of the ...

  • 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 ...

  • U.S. Air Force Song

    Article. Melodies and songs are often quoted within another piece of music and "Off We Go" is no exception. Frank Zappa's twenty-five-minute opus "Billy the Mountain," a pastiche of American musical genres, incorporates melodic references to "Off We Go" and a number of other tunes such as "Over the Rainbow," "Pomp and Circumstance," and television's the Tonight Show theme.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • 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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  • 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.

  • "I Love Thee, Lord" by William W. Gilchrist

    Article. The choral writing features a dialogue between the upper three voices and the bass. Gilchrist was fond of using contrapuntal devices to enliven his choral writing. At the end of the second verse, "Our source, our centre, and our dwelling place," triplets suddenly emerge in the accompaniment. The voices remain in common time, however, creating a rhythmic tension as the sopranos climb to ...