Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • 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.

  • 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 ...

  • " Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The alto carries the stately melody accompanied by a mournful, falling motive in the two soprano lines on the word "oh." The top-voiced harmonization is creative, and the melodic writing is vocally demanding. The work climaxes on a high, five-part divisi chord at the penultimate statement of the text, "A long way from home." The work ends pp in augmented note values on ...

  • 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 ...

  • John Knowles Paine (1839-1906)

    Biography. Although widely popular during his lifetime, Paine's works dwindled into obscurity as twentieth-century modernism took hold. Recent editions, writings, recordings and performances have brought Paine's music and his importance in American music history to the attention of present-day audiences and scholars.

  • "Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind, op. 14" by Horatio William Parker

    Article. While he lived in New York, Parker developed many relationships with fellow musicians that led to frequent performances of his compositions. One of these relationships was with Frank Van der Stucken, the conductor of the New York Arion Society male chorus. Van der Stucken's choir performed many of Parker's works for male chorus, and may have taken his part-song Blow, Blow, Thou Winter ...

  • "Far awa'" by Mrs. H.H.A. (Amy) Beach

    Article. Article. Beach's thirty works for women's chorus are a significant part of her output. They include major choral/orchestra cantatas such as The Chambered Nautilus, op. 66, (1907), commissioned by the St. Cecilia Club of New York. The demand for women's chorus repertoire grew exponentially in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Women's musical clubs flourished in the years following the 1893 meeting ...

  • 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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  • 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 ...

  • " 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • " 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 ...

  • " They that wait upon the Lord" by Arthur B. Whiting

    Article. Whiting sets this text from Isaiah (40:28-31) as an accompanied verse anthem, a form that alternates between solo and chorus to provide textural variety. In this case the musical contrast is suited to the dichotomy represented in the text. For example, he sets the narrative, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" as a lyric baritone solo. On the other ...

  • " Barcarole, Op. 44" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. This work is unique among MacDowell's choral works for its lush vocal richness and coloristic four-hand piano display. Frequent hemiolas, grace notes, trills, and triplet patterns in the piano partner with a lyric melodic breadth and sensitive harmonic progressions in the voices. The poem is by F. M. von Bodenstedt (1819-1892), a well-known German writer whose texts were also set by Brahms, Grieg, ...

  • "While Shepherds Watched (1889)" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    Article. Chadwick railed against the unschooled output of popular songwriters flooding the market to the exclusion of what he called "true music." In his 1876 paper on popular music reform, he complained about lack of originality in the popular music of the day. "Those who furnish the popular music have not paid, either in money or in mental discipline, the price of true and ...

  • "The Hawthorn Tree (1896)" by Margaret Ruthven Lang

    Article. 1. W. S. B. Matthews, ed., The Great in Music: A Systematic Course of Study in the Music of Classical and Modern Composers (Chicago: Music Magazine Publishing Co., 1900), 277-79.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • "Three Choruses, op. 33" by Horatio William Parker

    Article. The final piece, "Valentine," is the most rhythmically interesting of the set, with several passages of linear independence and increasingly adventurous chromatic passing tones. All three of these unaccompanied TTBB [tenor 1, tenor 2, baritone, bass] settings lie within the appropriate range of each male voice type, and they are fashioned in the mildly sentimental style of the songs and glees popular with ...

  • Samuel Barber, 1910-1981

    Biography. Barber's hallmark among American composers lies in the fact that he embraced his lyrical and expressive compositional style and shunned nearly all of the experimental trends that penetrated music in the first half of the twentieth century. Unlike many of his contemporaries who dabbled with folk music, twelve tone music, or serial music, the majority of Barber's works adhere to traditional European 19th-century ...

  • 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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  • Montague Ring

    Biography. Biography. Ms. Aldridge was the mentor and coach to such luminaries as Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, and Roland Hayes. She also composed several classical works including the songs "Noontide Song" and "'Tis Morning," the piano suites "Three Pictures from Syria," "Baghdad," "Four Moorish Pictures," "Three African Dances," and "Carnival: Suite of Five Dances," as well as several light orchestral works.

  • Concert Life in Philadelphia before the Revolutionary War

    On the theatrical stage, Philadelphia was home to one of the premiere opera companies in the colonies. The American Company of Comedians performed operas (in a style closer to Broadway musicals than to Grand Opera) in Philadelphia as early as 1750. Despite their success, by 1775 the company had decided to embark for Jamaica "where they intend exerting their justly applauded talents for the ...

  • " 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, ...

  • 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.