Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Francis La Flesche (1857-1932)

    Biography. Omaha Indian Music (American Memory)

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

    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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  • " 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)

    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.

  • 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

    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 ...

  • " 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

    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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  • " 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 ...

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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' ...

  • 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.

  • 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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  • 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)

    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

    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

    Article. More examples of music's historical narrative are available in the Civil War Sheet Music Collection online.

  • 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

    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

    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. ...

  • 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
  • " 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

    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, ...