Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Old Man's Love Song

    Farwell was apparently taken by the melody of "The Old Man's Love Song" because it reappeared in another of his compositions, his piano work entitled Dawn, op. 12 (published in 1902). For this work, Farwell combined the melody of "The Old Man's Love Song" with another American Indian tune, an Otoe melody. The melody of "The Old Man's Love Song" is first heard in ...

  • Regional Song Sampler: The Northeast

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • 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 ...

  • You're a Grand Old Flag

    Article. With and without Ethel Levey George Washington, Jr. ran from February 12, 1906 to April 23, 1906 and, following a national tour, had a one month return engagement in New York from February 11 through March 11, 1907.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • I'll Be Home for Christmas

    Article. In December 1965, having completed the first U.S. space rendezvous and set a record for the longest flight in the U.S. space program, the astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell hurtled back to earth aboard their Gemini 7 spacecraft. Asked by NASA communication personnel if they wanted any particular music piped up to them, the crew requested Bing Crosby's recording of "I'll Be ...

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

  • French American Song

    The worlds of French opera and French American folksong came together in the person of Eva Gauthier, a Canadian mezzo-soprano who sang operatic roles but specialized in recitals and concerts of arias and art songs. A world traveler as well as a singer, she sang throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand before World War I, and lived in the United States during ...

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  • " 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • " Pretty to Me" by Septimus Winner

    Article. Pretty to Me is lyrical, gentle, soft, and sentimental. Its melody is limited to an octave and consists of four verses. The melody for the second two stanzas of the verse nearly mirrors that of the first two stanzas. Each verse is followed by a homophonic choral refrain on the words "pretty to me."

  • Sit Down, Shut Up, and Listen to Ragtime: Bob Milne and the Occupational Folklore of the Traveling Piano Player

    They sat down and shut up. The Potentate almost fell over backward in his chair laughing, and I just went back up on the stage and continued. But to me, that's just business as normal!

  • 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, ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Portuguese American Song

    Traditional Portuguese vocal music forms find a contemporary expression in the music of Portuguese American rock bands. The ensembles play standard rock instruments like electric guitar, drums and electric bass, and perform at parties, showers, weddings and other social events. Their repertoire ranges from traditional Portuguese songs to rock and disco music. Acclaimed Portuguese American vocal artists include Anthony Joseph "Joe Perry" Pereira, a ...

  • " 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," ...

  • I Wish You Bliss

    Song Collection. Despite Korngold's misgivings about his own fluency in English, he nevertheless prepared his own English translation of "Glückwunsch,"written, incidentally, on the reverse side of stationery for "Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc." of Burbank, California (an image of which appears elsewhere on this website). Once can easily imagine Korngold, in a moment of rest from creating his latest film score or musical composition, tossing ...

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  • Anchors Aweigh

    Article. Charles Zimmermann died just before the U.S. entered WWI but his counterpart, John Philip Sousa, enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was paid one dollar per month to organize the young musicians recruited into the service. He molded the Great Lakes Navy Band into an accomplished musical organization and became the first Navy musician to hold the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Midshipman ...

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

  • 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 ...

  • "Bethlehem, op. 24" by Amy Beach

    Article. Article. The piece sets a text by George C. Hugg, a compiler of late-nineteenth-century hymnals. Beach's hymn enjoyed great popularity, receiving performances at the First Baptist Church, Boston, in 1893 and, a few years later, in Detroit and Minneapolis. Arthur P. Schmidt published and disseminated Beach's works, serving as an early champion of women composers. Beach also was an energetic promoter of her ...