Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Francis La Flesche (1857-1932)

    Francis La Flesche (1857-1932)

    Biography. Omaha Indian Music (American Memory)

  • "The Lonely Rose, op. 43" by Margaret Ruthven Lang

    "The Lonely Rose, op. 43" by Margaret Ruthven Lang

    Article. The voice parts are marked meticulously with frequent crescendo and diminuendo marks, often two per bar in several successive measures. The piano part also contains highly detailed pedal markings and even fingerings for some difficult passages. Lang's father was a student of Franz Liszt, so her piano accompaniments may contain her father's editorial suggestions that reflect Liszt's style.

  • 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.

  • " Two Northern Songs, Op. 43: No. 1, The Brook; No. 2, Slumber Song" by Edward MacDowell

    " Two Northern Songs, Op. 43: No. 1, The Brook; No. 2, Slumbe...

    Article. Setting his own text, MacDowell describes a winter scene: "Frozen is the ground, / The stream's ice bound, / Softly the north wind croons, softly croons." In the final stanza, a "flaxen head," perhaps a child's, rests on the poet's shoulder while it snows outside. The text and melody are carried by the soprano while the lower three voices hum. Harmony is chromatic ...

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  • 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 ...

  • 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.

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

    " 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. ...

  • 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.

  • 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 ...

  • Spanish American Song

    Spanish American Song

    The music of Spanish, or Sephardic, Jews of the Iberian Peninsula has also found a place in the United States. They were expelled from Spain in the fifteenth century, and subsequently migrated to many other countries including the Dutch colony that would become New York. The historic language of Sephardic Jews is a dialect of Spanish called Ladino, but they adopted the language of ...

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  • 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 ...

  • 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, ...

  • " Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The SATB version of Burleigh's solo setting was arranged by Nathaniel Clifford Page (1866-1956). The piano accompaniment uses a repetitive, falling-chord figure throughout to create the "swing low" aural imagery. Page departs from the usual homophonic, chordal texture to introduce a brief imitation between the soprano and tenor on the second phrase of the spiritual. At the end of the opening refrain, Burleigh ...

  • 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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  • "Done Paid My Vow to the Lord" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    "Done Paid My Vow to the Lord" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    Article. Dett arranged Done Paid My Vow to the Lord for baritone or contralto solo, women voices, and piano in 1919. It was published that year by the John Church Company. The tune did not appear in his collection Religious Folk-Song of the Negro as Sung at the Hampton Institute (1927). Rather, the spiritual came from the collection of George Lake Imes, secretary of ...

  • " 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 ...

  • "Peace on Earth, op. 38, (1897)" by Amy Beach

    "Peace on Earth, op. 38, (1897)" by Amy Beach

    Article. Beach's use of expressive devices serves to demonstrate adherence to her tenth musical commandment: "Remember that technic is valuable only as a means to an end. You must first have something to say--something which demands expression from the depths of your soul. If you feel deeply and know how to express what you feel, you make others feel."

  • Harry Macdonough

    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.

  • 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 ...

  • Charles Ives, 1874-1954

    Charles Ives, 1874-1954

    Swafford, Jan. Charles Ives : A Life With Music. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.

  • The  1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago

    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.

  • 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).

  • 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 ...

  • " 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' ...

  • Of Thee I Sing

    Of Thee I Sing

    Article. View posters from the New Deal era in American Memory

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Alton A. Adams

    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 ...

  • "There's a Meetin' Here Tonight" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    "There's a Meetin' Here Tonight" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    Article. The John Church Company published Dett's arrangement of There's a Meetin' Here Tonight in 1921. The composer dedicated the work to the Cecilia Society of Boston, an all-white chorus organized in 1874 under the sponsorship of Harvard University. The same group had premiered Dett'sChariot Jubilee a year earlier.

  • 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.

  • "Bow Down Thine Ear" by Horatio William Parker

    "Bow Down Thine Ear" by Horatio William Parker

    Article. G. Schirmer published the piece in 1890. (Please note that in m. 44 the soprano's E-natural may have been intended to be an E-flat, as suggested by the doubling in the accompaniment.)

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

    "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.

  • 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.

  • 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

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  • 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.

  • Library of Congress March

    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
  • The  American Art Song: An Introduction

    The American Art Song: An Introduction

    Article. Article. Although a full account of the American art song is beyond the scope of this introduction, it is hoped that these highlights will serve as an invitation to further explore and appreciate America's song tradition. The American art song, in its relatively brief two-hundred-year-old journey, has not yet traveled very far but it has certainly traveled wide: from the Psalm settings and ...

  • American Opera

    American Opera

    By the turn of the nineteenth century, the dominance of Italian opera was waning in favor of distinct national traditions. As those traditions developed, the Italian style was appropriated and combined with theatrical, dance, folk music and instrumental music styles that represented each country's unique musical culture creating the multifaceted art form that 21st century audiences know as opera. Today, opera companies in the ...

  • 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
  • " Ol' Marse Winter" by Gena Branscombe

    " Ol' Marse Winter" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Branscombe's SSA setting of poetry by Mary Alice Ogden (1858-1926) was published by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1914. Ogden's verse was used by permission of The Smart Set Co., a New York literary and cultural magazine edited by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan between 1914 and 1923. Branscombe sets the text, written in African-American dialect, to constant eighth notes, ...

  • 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.

  • The  African American Civil Rights Movement

    The African American Civil Rights Movement

    This presentation also includes a performance of songs from the Civil Rights era from the Washington, DC-based sextet Reverb, consisting of Steve Langley, Victor Pinkney, Chris Hunter, Troy Edler, Kevin Owens, and Jason Deering. The Civil Rights songs performed on this webcast are "Freedom Land" (timecode 00:05:20); "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" (timecode 00:08:55); "Ain't Going to Let Nobody Turn Me Round" (timecode 00:11:20); ...

  • 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.

  • 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. ...

  • 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.

  • Maurice Arnold, 1865-1937

    Maurice Arnold, 1865-1937

    Biography. Biography. Maurice Arnold was one of many African-American students of Antonin Dvorak during Dvorak's 1894 stay in the United States. Arnold participated in Dvorak's famous January 23, 1894, concert at the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. Arnold's four "American Plantation Dances" were performed at the conservatory and garnered him a small measure of fame. He was also the author 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
  • Ernst Bacon, 1898-1990

    Ernst Bacon, 1898-1990

    ________. Words on Music. Syracuse University Press, 1960.

  • " 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," ...

  • Croatian American Song

    Croatian American Song

    In the twentieth century as a result of the influence of American pop music, the tamburitza ensembles have developed a more diverse sound. The repertoire of the tamburitza groups today combines traditional songs in the Serbo-Croatian language, narodnjak songs (contemporary, accordion-led urban folk/pop tunes) and classic American pop songs. In contemporary America the tamburitza is embraced by Croatians, Serbs and Slovenians. The Bajich Brothers, ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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).

  • 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 ...

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  • 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.

  • " 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 ...

  • Yup'ik Song

    Yup'ik Song

    In this recording, he sings a song commemorating the vision of the Yup'ik medicine man who predicted the arrival of Europeans and their ships. According to the story, the British explorer Captain James Cook arrived in 1778, exactly one year to the day after the vision. Used by permission of Mr. Chuna McIntyre.

  • Elinor Remick Warren, 1890-1991
  • 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 (http://www.scottjoplin.org).

  • An  Old Song Resung

    An Old Song Resung

    Song Collection. In addition to housing the published edition of the song, the Music Division at the Library of Congress is also the repository of the holograph version of Griffes's "An Old Song Re-sung," acquired from Griffes's family in 1923. By studying the manuscript in the composer's hand, scholars and musicians can appreciate Griffes's penmanship as well as his attention to detail.

  • Hail Columbia

    Hail Columbia

    Article. Up until the 1890s "Hail Columbia" was played as the de facto national anthem of the United States. President Lincoln once mentioned he had to stand up and take off his hat when "Hail Columbia" was sung. Many Europeans actually took it to be the U.S. anthem and played it accordingly. In 1889 it was played in that fashion to honor Thomas Edison ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Star Spangled Banner

    Star Spangled Banner

    Article. The Anacreontic Society was founded around 1766, and named in honor of the ancient Greek court poet Anacreon, who in the sixth century B.C., entertained his tyrannical patrons with lyrics celebrating wine, women, and song. In 1791 Franz Josef Haydn was the Society's honored guest at a performance of one of his own symphonies, which indicates the primacy of the group's musical interests. ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Sidney Robertson Cowell (1903-1995)
  • African-American Band Stocks

    African-American Band Stocks

    Article. Article. All of these composers wrote hit music, heard in hotel restaurants as well as in the small-town bandstands of America. This music still retains its ability to delight.

  • 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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  • "Don't Be Weary, Traveler" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    "Don't Be Weary, Traveler" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    Article. R. Nathaniel Dett dedicated Don't Be Weary, Traveler to philanthropist and arts patron George Foster Peabody. It was published by the John Church Company, "The House Devoted to the Progress of American Music." The publisher included it in a series titled "Negro Spirituals. Folk Songs of the South, Adaptations of Original Melodies by R. Nathaniel Dett." The publication was issued in 1921, just ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • African American Performers on Early Sound Recordings, 1892-1916

    African American Performers on Early Sound Recordings, 1892-1916

    Article. Article. Mainspring Press http://www.mainspringpress.com/victorsales.htmlExternal

  • 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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  • 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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  • James Reese Europe, 1881-1919

    James Reese Europe, 1881-1919

    Biography. Biography. The impact of James Reese Europe on American music cannot be overestimated. Perhaps even more than Will Marion Cook, he shaped not only the music of his own time, but of future generations as well. His organizational accomplishments, far exceeding Cook's, prefigured the black-owned, black-run musical organizations that have existed since his time and to this day.

  • 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 ...

  • 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.

  • 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, ...

  • Comanche and Kiowa Song and Dance

    Comanche and Kiowa Song and Dance

    In this presentation Tom Mauchahty-Ware with Thomas Ware, III and Chester Tieyah, Jr. perform Comanche and Kiowa songs and dances at the Library of Congress, September 11, 2009. Tom Mauchahty-Ware is a Kiowa-Comanche flute player and singer. He is a descendent of Belo Cozad, a well-known Kiowa flute player. He is also the son of Wilson Ware, a fancy-dance champion and powwow singer who ...

  • 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 ...

  • Regional Song Sampler: The Midwest

    Regional Song Sampler: The Midwest

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • 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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  • Evening Song

    Evening Song

    Song Collection. "Evening Song" is set to a text by Sidney Lanier (1842-1881), an American from the South who fought in the Civil War. It is worth noting that Lanier himself was also a musician – indeed, a talented flutist who sat first chair with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore in 1873 – and, as a result, his poetry often exhibits a musical ...

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  • " Balm in Gilead" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " Balm in Gilead" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The text of this spiritual was inspired by the biblical passage: "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" (Jeremiah 8:22). Burleigh's setting alternates three nearly identical repetitions of the refrain with two verses. The refrain features a B-flat pedal tone in the piano accompaniment underlying a ...

  • " My Lady Nicotine"  by Will Marion Cook

    " My Lady Nicotine" by Will Marion Cook

    Article. A lyrical ode to the joys of smoking, My Lady, Nicotine notably features the use of syncopated, ragtime rhythm (mm. 9 and 17) and high tessitura. The melody reaches a high A at the verse climax, "She's the mad little, bad little queen of smoke." The duple meter of the verse changes to triple in m. 23, introducing an enthusiastic waltz refrain for ...

  • " Whoop Her Up!"  by Will Marion Cook

    " Whoop Her Up!" by Will Marion Cook

    Article. The piece was published in 1910 by Harry Von Tilzer, New York. The present edition, copyrighted by Cook, alters the original "Whoop 'er up" to "Whoop her up" in both the title and the lyrics. The edition is missing a glissando on the word "whoop" in the vocal and piano parts found in the original publication (m. 42).

  • Leonard Bernstein, 1918-1990

    Leonard Bernstein, 1918-1990

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

    • Contributor: Bernstein, Leonard
  • " Christ Jesus Comes from Heavenly Height" by Peter C. Lutkin

    " Christ Jesus Comes from Heavenly Height" by Peter C. Lutkin

    Article. For much of his life, Lutkin composed original carols as Christmas card greetings. Child Jesus Comes from Heavenly Height was one of two such greetings later published by H. W. Gray. It is a simple, strophic a cappella setting—in two verses with refrains—of a translated poem by Hans Christian Anderson. The verse begins with a unison descending line that separates into four parts ...

  • 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 ...

  • Mexican American Song

    Mexican American Song

    The most well known son jarocho is "La Bamba," which the Mexican American pop singer Ritchie Valens (1941-1959) popularized. Son Jarocho has become part of the fabric of the work of an array of contemporary Mexican American pop and rock singers including Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, Los Lobos and Lila Downs.

  • 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 ...

  • " Domine salvum fac praesidem nostrum, Op. 8" by John Knowles Paine

    " Domine salvum fac praesidem nostrum, Op. 8" by John Knowles...

    Article. Domine salvum fac praesidem nostrum was published in 1915 by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, featuring a piano reduction of the orchestral score by Paine's student, Arthur Foote.

  • 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 ...

  • 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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  • 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 ...

  • William Grant Still, 1895-1978

    William Grant Still, 1895-1978

    Biography. Further Reading

  • The  Sea

    The Sea

    Article. MacDowell's Eight Songs, op. 47, come from his last period of song composition. Written in 1893 while living in Boston, these songs were penned when MacDowell was at the height of his fame as a composer. The second to last song in the set, "The Sea," is perhaps one of MacDowell's finest songs. Set to a text by William Dean Howells, "The Sea" ...

  • U.S. Air Force Song

    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
  • 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 ...

  • "The Voice of My Beloved" by Mabel Wheeler Daniels

    "The Voice of My Beloved" by Mabel Wheeler Daniels

    Article. Daniels wrote her best-known work, Exultate Deo (1929), to celebrate Radcliffe's fiftieth anniversary and A Psalm of Praise (1954) for the college's seventy-fifth anniversary. Her Song of Jael, premiered at the 1940 Worcester Festival, marked her first venture into a modern musical idiom, using daring dissonances and highly original choral effects.

  • 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.

  • Stars and Stripes Forever

    Stars and Stripes Forever

    Article. The "Flute in C" with silver keys and ferrules was used for 11 years by Mr. Louis P. Fritze, a member of the Sousa Band. He played it in the Band's 1910 around-the-world tour. It has been repaired by a broad silver band at the socket of the head-joint and had mother-of-pearl set in the "stopper."

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • 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

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  • Regional Song Sampler: The West

    Regional Song Sampler: The West

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • 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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  • " Centennial Hymn, Op. 27" by John Knowles Paine

    " Centennial Hymn, Op. 27" by John Knowles Paine

    Article. Centennial Hymn is a setting of John Greenleaf Whittier's six-verse poem of the same name. The musical material is strophic, the text setting is syllabic, and the length is a mere twenty-four bars of choral singing. A trumpet fanfare introduces the hymn, and an optional orchestral interlude is situated between the verses. Paine marks each of the initial four-bar phrases and the final ...