Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Classic Rag

    John Stark was particularly proud of the rags that his firm published. One of his advertisements read: "Why are the Stark Music Co's Rags called Classic? This is the reason: They are intellectual musical thought grounded in the emotional principle of humanity. They are the musical soul-thought of the human race."

  • 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).

  • " Dig My Grave," one of "Two Negro Spirituals" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The text and melody of Dig My Grave were taken from Bahama Songs and Stories by Charles L. Edwards. The opening is appropriately somber, marked Grave, and set for four-part men's voices: "Dig my grave long and narrow! Make my coffin long and strong!" At the tempo change to Andante cantabile, the women sing in parallel sixths while the men sustain an open-fifth ...

  • "Elfin Song (1910)" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    Article. After a wild fairy dance round the witch hazel tree, the appearance of a beetle causes a key change and a buzzing, 16th-note figure in the accompaniment. Next, the leaf harp sings accompanied by rapid arpeggios. The opening music returns and the fairy figures "skip and gambol merrily" to a pp conclusion.

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • " 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 ...

  • " In Arcady by Moonlight" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Also published as a solo song, Branscombe's choral setting (SSA) was issued by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1914. The text is by Kendall Banning (1879-1914) and refers to a mythical utopian place, a pastoral vision in which all is in harmony with nature. The poem begins, "In Arcady by moonlight (where only lovers go), there is a pool where fairest of ...

  • "Ponder My Words" by William W. Gilchrist

    Article. Gilchrist's 1915 anthem Ponder My Words was one of the works chosen for a service celebrating the centennial of his birth in 1946. The service was held at New Jerusalem Church in Philadelphia. The anthem opens with a soprano solo singing an expressive setting of the Psalm-Five text. At "consider my meditation," an extended diatonic sequence leads to a choral repetition of the ...

  • Amy Beach (1867-1944)

    Biography. Biography. Beach assumed many leadership positions, often in advancing the cause of American women composers. She was associated with the Music Teachers National Association and the Music Educators National Conference. In 1925, she was a founding member and first president of the Society of American Women Composers. Following her death on December 27, 1944, Beach's royalties were given to the MacDowell Colony, as ...

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • " 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • " Come, O Thou Traveler" by Harvey Bartlett Gaul

    Article. At the second stanza, "Yield to me now, for I am weak," Gaul changes the key to C major and the texture to solo quartet. The full chorus reenters at "'Tis Love! Thou die'st for me." The work climaxes on a C-major chord in second inversion with the sopranos on a high G, "Pure universal Love, Thou art to me, Thou art to ...

  • " I Bring You Heartsease" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Also published as a solo song, Branscombe's choral setting (SSA) was issued by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1915. The text, written by the composer, refers to a variety of flowers shared by lovers in springtime. Heartsease, the progenitor of the cultivated pansy, was most likely the flower that yielded a powerful love potion in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Branscombe's musical ...

  • 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.

  • " 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 ...

  • Noble Sissle, 1889-1975

    Biography. Biography. Sissle also founded the Negro Actors Guild. Known as the unofficial mayor of Harlem, he died in December 1975.

  • Ernest Bloch and the Library of Congress

    Courtesy of Musical America

  • 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).

  • 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, ...

  • J. Leubrie Hill (John Leubrie), d. 1916

    Biography. Biography. Florenz Ziegfeld, producer of the Ziegfeld Follies, was impressed enough to buy the rights for a few of the numbers from My Friend from Kentucky including "At the Ball, That's All" to use in his next Follies production. Parts of My Friend from Kentucky also were used in 1914's Darktown Follies, which played in a more conventional Broadway theater; this production was ...

  • "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.

  • "The Wind and the Day (A Sunset on Yarrow)" by Arthur Foote

    Article. This part-song, one of fifty-two composed by Foote, was dedicated to Horatio Parker (1863–1919), a fellow member of the Second New England School of composers. It sets a pastoral poem by Scottish writer Andrew Lang, who edited the poems and songs of Robert Burns in 1896. The text and music paint a picture of a sunset over the heather. Foote injects chromatic harmonies ...