Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • 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" ...

  • 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.

  • 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 ...

  • Early Sound Recordings of "Amazing Grace" in the LC Collections

    Early Sound Recordings of "Amazing Grace" in the LC Collections

    Article. Article. Rust, Brian. The Victor Master Book, Volume 2 (1925-1936). Stanhope, NJ: W. C. Allen, 1970.

  • "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 ...

  • Joseph Lamb, 1887-1960

    Joseph Lamb, 1887-1960

    Biography. Biography. Lamb died in September of 1960 in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, recognition of his contributions to ragtime came only at the end of his life.

  • In the Wilderness and Solitary Hotel

    In the Wilderness and Solitary Hotel

    Song Collection. Barber set three poems by Robert Graves in Despite and Still, including the third song, "In the Wilderness." Graves's poem, written in 1915, deals with the suffering of Jesus. While the opening of "In the Wilderness" is reminiscent of a lullaby, the middle section is harsh, featuring an aggressive accompaniment containing open fifths pitted against a melodic line containing tritones. The lullaby ...

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  • 1950 to Present --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    1950 to Present -- The Library of Cong...

    Cultural and historical events from 1950 to present related to American song.

    • Date: 1950
  • Rock --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Rock -- The Library of Congress Celebr...

    The term "Rock and Roll" was applied to several related forms of music broadly popular with youth starting in the mid-1950s. Some styles were already well established with certain audiences, or used musical devices that had been around for some time, but in the mid-1950s, they achieved national popularity, and soon became the driving forces in much of popular music. Playlist Recordings from Library ...

  • " Dance of Gnomes" by Edward MacDowell

    " 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." ...

  • This Land is Your Land

    This Land is Your Land

    Article. Nobody living can ever stop me As I go walking my Freedom Highway Nobody living can make me turn back This land was made for you and me.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • " Long, Long the Night" by Daniel Gregory Mason

    " 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 ...

  • " Cradle Song" by Edward MacDowell

    " Cradle Song" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. The text is by MacDowell after a German poem by Peter Cornelius (1824-1874). A lullaby, this brief work is representative of a quintessential American male glee club song: a cappella, homophonic, closely voiced, regular phrases, heartfelt, and tender. Chromatic motion often occurs against pedal tones. Interest is found more in the overall harmonic effect than in the melody. MacDowell dedicated the work to ...

  • Greek American Song
  • My Country 'Tis of Thee

    My Country 'Tis of Thee

    Article. Smith initially wrote another verse, which he cut because it seemed too strident and not in keeping with what he wanted to be a peaceful homage to the nation. Beethoven and Haydn have incorporated the music of this song into their own work and, on August 28, 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King quoted Smith's lyrics when he stated from the steps of the ...

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

  • Passamaquoddy Song

    Passamaquoddy Song

    Both Wayne Newell and Blanch Sockabasin are passionate about helping new generations stay connected to their history and culture. According to Newell, "These songs are about who we are, that we should be proud, and about our obligations to our children."

  • Interactive Maps --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Interactive Maps -- The Library of Con...

    See the connection between America's geography and song through interactive maps that offer songs from the states and about the states.

    • Date: 1581
  • 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 ...

  • Articles About Songs --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Articles About Songs -- The Library of...

    Original essays and articles are available on this site to help provide historical context and a deeper view for those who wish to learn more about particular topics. The Library's curators have written articles on historical topics and song, musical styles, individual songs, and songs of various ethnic groups in America.

    • Date: 1759
  • 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.

  • Hip Hop/Rap --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Hip Hop/Rap -- The Library of Congress...

    In the 1970s and 1980s, the emergence of hip-hop in the African-American communities of cities like New York, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles, took longstanding African-American musical traditions in new directions. The style was generally known as "rap" in its early days, and this term is still interchangeable with "hip-hop" when discussing the genre broadly. Hip-hop artists like the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, NWA, ...

  • Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923)

    Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923)

    Biography. Omaha Indian Music (American Memory)

    • Contributor: Fletcher, Alice C. (Alice Cunningham)
  • 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. ...

  • 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.

  • Icelandic American Song

    Icelandic American Song

    Article. Part of a multi-format online collection entitled "California Gold: Northern California Music from the Thirties," the songs were collected as part of The WPA California Folk Music Project, a joint effort of the Work Projects Administration, the Library of Congress, and the Music Division of the University of California, Berkeley, to document folk music being actively performed in Northern California. The project, which ...

  • Printable Timeline --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Printable Timeline -- The Library of C...

    1950 Songs of America Elinor Remick Warren writes "God Be In My Heart." Aaron Copland's first set of Old American Songs includes settings of "The Boatmen's Dance," "The Dodger," "Long Time Ago," "Simple Gifts," and "I Bought Me A Cat." Seeger Family Concert. Mike, Peggy, and Pete Seeger with the Short Sisters, recorded at the Library of Congress, March 16, 2007 [webcast]. Culture Gian ...

  • Biographies --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Biographies -- The Library of Congress...

    Short biographies are available for some of the many composers, lyricists, performers, conductors, field collectors, and folklorists who have played a part in the history of American songs.

    • Date: 1759
  • Let Down the Bars

    Let Down the Bars

    Performers and scholars have ranked Bacon's Dickinson settings among the best in the repertoire and have considered him to be one of Dickinson's best interpreters. Few of Bacon's songs have been published separately. Rather, most of his songs have been issued in collections, and quite often a song will appear in more than one collection, usually in a revised version. One such collection is ...

  • War and Conflict --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    War and Conflict -- The Library of Con...

    War has played no small part in the history of American song. Some of the nation's oldest folk and pop songs celebrate important victories, the experiences of soldiers and sailors, or the loss of loved ones. Playlist for War and Conflict Five recordings from Library of Congress collections describe the business of conflict in a human way. The Waltz must change to a march, ...

  • "God, That Madest Earth and Heaven" by Horatio William Parker

    "God, That Madest Earth and Heaven" by Horatio William Parker

    Article. Parker's strophic setting is largely homophonic, reminiscent of a harmonized chorale melody. The part-writing, however, is occasionally imitative and always interesting, showing his excellent training and superior craftsmanship.

  • 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.

  • John Wesley Work, III (1901-1967)

    John Wesley Work, III (1901-1967)

    Biography. Resources

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

  • 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 ...

  • Hawaiian Song

    Hawaiian Song

    Colleges and university programs in Hawai'i participate in the revitalization of Hawaiian language and culture. An example available in this presentation comes from Hawai'i Community College in Hilo, Hawai'i, where a program in traditional hula, Hālau Hula, emphasizes learning Hawaiian language, as well as dance, chants, and songs. Students and teachers of this program formed the group Unukupukupu, which performed at the Library of ...

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  • 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 ...

  • " Song for a May Morning" by Patty Stair

    " Song for a May Morning" by Patty Stair

    Article. Patty Stair wrote Song for a May Morning in 1914 to address the needs of the burgeoning women's musical clubs that gained popularity during the first part of the twentieth century. The piece begins with a lively duet between the upper two voices. The alto parts join the texture in close imitation of the top voices. A homophonic section follows featuring more adventurous ...

  • 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).

  • Patrick Conway

    Patrick Conway

    Patrick Conway (1867–1929) was a famed bandmaster whose career was strongly associated with the city of Ithaca, New York. Conway became the conductor of the Ithaca Band in 1895 and in 1908 used that group as the foundation for his own Patrick Conway Band, with which he toured. Conway made records for the Victor, Edison, Okeh, Pathé, Gennett, and Paramount record companies. He is ...

  • 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 ...

  • "The  Jumblies, Op. 68, No. 4" by Arthur Foote

    "The Jumblies, Op. 68, No. 4" by Arthur Foote

    Article. Foote sets this humorous limerick by Edward Lear (1812-88) "Allegro giocoso." He chooses only the first and fourth stanzas of Lear's five-stanza poem. The music is scored in C minor, with a parenthesized note under the first measure, "preferably in C-sharp." Foote provides a dynamic scheme and articulations to capture the text's humor. "And when the sieve turned round and round, and ev'ry ...

  • "Festival Hymn" by Dudley Buck

    "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 ...

  • Eternal Father, Strong to Save

    Eternal Father, Strong to Save

    Article. Eternal Father, was a favorite hymn of both President Theodore Roosevelt, a former Secretary of the Navy (1897-98), and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy. It was performed as the body of President John F. Kennedy, a PT boat commander in World War II, was brought to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Ernest Bloch and the Library of Congress

    Ernest Bloch and the Library of Congress

    Courtesy of Musical America

  • Illustrated Sound Recordings --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Illustrated Sound Recordings -- The Li...

    Performances of song and concerts from the Library of Congress are available on this site as well as interviews with performers and composers.

    • Date: 1759
  • Western and Cowboy Songs --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Western and Cowboy Songs -- The Librar...

    Although it is often spoken of in the same breath as "Country" music, "Western" is a distinct area of American popular music whose roots reach into the frontier era of the 19th century. Playlist Five recordings from Library of Congress collections Starving to death on a government claim A pioneer song sung by folklorist Vance Randolph, who learned it in Kansas in his youth. ...

  • Francis James Child and The English and Scottish Popular Ballads

    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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  • 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
  • This is My Country

    This is My Country

    Article. The co-authors of "This Is My Country" passed away within a month of each other. Raye died in Encino, California on January 29, 1985. Al Jacobs passed away on February 13, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland. Their song "This is My Country" is played nightly during the finale of the Disneyland and Disney World fireworks spectacular.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • I Wish You Bliss

    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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  • Country --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Country -- The Library of Congress Cel...

    Country music encompasses everything from fiddler Eck Robertson to the arena-pop of Taylor Swift. The origins of country music can be traced to the 17th century, when European and African immigrants to North America brought their folktales, folk songs, favorite instruments, and musical traditions. Country music has seen various developments since the first commercial recordings, but whatever form it takes, country music speaks to ...

  • "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.)

  • 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."

  • German American and Russian German American Song

    German American and Russian German American Song

    The composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950) made a significant impact on both American classical and popular music culture with his musical works for the stage. Weill fled Nazi Germany in the mid-1930s, eventually seeking citizenship in the United States with his wife Lotte Lenya (who originated many of her husband's most important female roles.) Works like "The Threepenny Opera," "Happy End" and "Lady in the ...

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  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Omaha Indian Song

    Omaha Indian Song

    In addition to early cylinder recordings, this presentation includes recordings of performances of songs and speeches at Omaha powwows in the 1983 and a performance by the Hethu'shka Society at the Library of Congress in 1985. Audio recordings of interviews with members of the Omaha tribe in 1983 and 1999 help to explain the meanings and uses of the songs performed. For example, members ...

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

    " 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  Golden Willow Tree

    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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  • " Pirate Song" by Henry F. Gilbert

    " Pirate Song" by Henry F. Gilbert

    Article. The present edition was issued by the H. W. Gray Co. in 1921. Gilbert adapted words from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island with added stanzas by Alice C. Hyde. The opening baritone solo, "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest," elicits the first of many pirate responses, "Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum." The men's chorus sings in unison throughout except ...

  • Songs Related to the Abolition of Slavery

    Songs Related to the Abolition of Slavery

    Among the places that slaves could run to and avoid capture were lands belonging to American Indian tribes by treaty. Before the United States acquired Florida, slaves could flee there to both leave the United States and seek allies among the Seminole tribe. In the webcast Tim Tingle and D.J. Battiest-Tomasi: Oklahoma Choctaw Music and Storytelling, available in this presentation, Tim Tingle tells a ...

  • Curator Talks --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Curator Talks -- The Library of Congre...

    The curators of the collections at the Library of Congress give more information about the history of song in the United States in these brief "Curator Talk" videos with the help of illustrations and audio clips.

    • Date: 1759
  • Treemonisha

    Treemonisha

    Joplin was never able to raise the funds to produce Treemonisha, a factor that contributed to ill health at the end of his life. It was not staged until 1972, when it was presented under the auspices of Morehouse College in Atlanta, directed by Katherine Dunham and conducted by Robert Shaw. Although the work was produced shortly thereafter at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia, ...

  • 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.

  • Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair

    Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair

    While today "Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair" remains one of Foster's most beloved parlor ballads, the song was virtually unknown during its time. When it was first published, the royalties on the ten thousand copies sold earned just over $200 dollars for Foster. However, Foster, who experienced financial difficulty through most of his career, had to sell the rights to "Jeanie" (as well ...

  • " 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, ...

  • 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 ...

  • Songs of Politics and Political Campaigns

    Songs of Politics and Political Campaigns

    Even without a labor party, the goal of promoting candidates that would favor the interests of working Americans continued to be a goal of labor unions in many elections through the present day. In Franklin D. Roosevelt's first campaign for president, he pledged to work to improve labor conditions. His campaign was supported by union dollars, and he established a working relationship with John ...

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  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Shenandoah

    Shenandoah

    As unclear as the song's origin is, so is the definitive interpretation of its text. Some believe that the song refers to the river of the same name. Others suggest that it is of African-American origin, for it tells the tale of Sally, the daughter of the Indian Chief Shenandoah, who is courted for seven years by a white Missouri river trader. Regardless of ...

  • 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)
  • 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 ...

  • I'll Be Home for Christmas

    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
  • 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 ...

  • 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.

  • Beautiful Dreamer

    Beautiful Dreamer

    For his songs composed after 1860, Foster turned his creative energy to the parlor ballad, a type of song noted for its sentimental or narrative text, frequently at a slow tempo. The subjects of Foster's ballads were relatively free of minstrel-song influences and centered on topics devoid of southern themes, such as mother, love, and home. With its lilting triplet rhythm, "Beautiful Dreamer" exemplifies ...

  • Night Wanderers

    Night Wanderers

    Song Collection. Samuel Barber's setting of "Night Wanderers" was not published during his lifetime. It was finally published in 1994 as a part of G. Schirmer's collection of "Ten Early Songs" by Barber. The song is a setting of a poem by William Henry Davies (1871-1940), author of the well-known chronicle "Autobiography of a Super-Tramp" (1908). The book recalls Davies' years living as a ...

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  • Ethiopia Saluting the Colors

    Ethiopia Saluting the Colors

    In the poem, "Ethiopia" is an old black slave woman who salutes the American flag as she sees General Sherman's troops march by, all the while being watched herself by a soldier. The colors in her turban--yellow, red, and green--represent those found in the Ethiopian flag. Burleigh musically depicts the setting with a precise, militaristic accompaniment, and with the quotation of the Civil War ...

  • Shape Note Singing --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Shape Note Singing -- The Library of C...

    Nineteenth century American song books that used notes in different shapes to aid singers and teach singing came to be known as "shape-note hymnals" and the style of singing from these "shape-note singing." Christian hymnals using this system were among the most enduring uses of this notation. Among the most popular was The Sacred Harp by B. F. White, first published in Georgia in ...

  • Blackfeet Song

    Blackfeet Song

    Victor recordings of two Blackfeet songs made in 1914 in Glacier Park, Montana are available in this presentation. "White Dog Song" and "Medicine Song" are the titles given on the label of the original recording.

  • 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)

  • Peter C. Lutkin (1858-1931)

    Peter C. Lutkin (1858-1931)

    Biography. In addition to his position as Dean and Director of Choirs at Northwestern University, he also served as Professor of Theory, Piano, Organ, and Composition in the School of Music, 1895-1931; Director of the School's Department of Church and Choral Music, 1926-28; and Lecturer in Church Music at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from Syracuse University. He ...

  • " 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. ...

  • 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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  • 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.

  • " 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • " 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 ...

  • The  Creation of "Amazing Grace"

    The Creation of "Amazing Grace"

    Article. Article. NOTES:1. Information for this essay was drawn in great part from Steve Turner's book "Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song" (New York: HarperCollins, 2002). We are grateful to the author for allowing us to quote his book liberally. [back to text]2. As Turner notes, the Quakers and Anabaptists were the only Christians to speak out against slavery (p. 50). ...

  • Francis La Flesche (1857-1932)

    Francis La Flesche (1857-1932)

    Biography. Omaha Indian Music (American Memory)

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    "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 ...

  • " Hosanna" by Arthur Farwell

    " Hosanna" by Arthur Farwell

    Article. Farwell orchestrated Hosanna for an extraordinary performance in Carnegie Hall by the students of the Third Street Music School Settlement in March 1918. The concert, led by the composer, featured a chorus of eight hundred and an orchestra of two hundred. The highly successful event (for which the stage had to be nearly doubled in size) not only raised a significant amount of ...

  • Shepard N. Edmonds, 1876-1957

    Shepard N. Edmonds, 1876-1957

    Biography. Biography. Little is known of Shepard N. Edmonds, except that he published some music. He was part of a vaudeville team with J. Leubrie Hill which performed on the East Coast around 1898.

  • 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 ...

  • Sioux Song and Dance

    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 ...

  • 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 ...