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Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Article

    Danny Deever

    Damrosch's version of the song, published in 1897, is a dramatic account of the death of Danny Deever. Organized in a "question and answer" sequence, the verses usually begin with questions posed by the Files-on-Parade (a soldier in the ranks), which are then answered by the Color Sergeant in the song's refrain. While the militaristic accompaniment helps distinguish the Color Sergeant from the soldier, ...

  • Article

    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 ...

  • Article

    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 ...

  • Article

    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 ...

  • Article

    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 ...

  • Article

    Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway

    "Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway!" was published by F. D. Benteen of Baltimore in April of 1850. Foster probably hoped that the publication of his parlor ballads helped diversify his reputation as a song composer, but the ballads proved financially unsatisfactory as compared to his minstrel songs. In his account ledger of 1857, Foster recorded that "Ah! May the Red Rose Live ...

  • Article

    Hard Times

    The text of "Hard Times Come Again No More" proved tragically propheticfor Foster, as it was reported that he sang this song quite often in his lastdays. Indeed, the composer died on January 13, 1864, at the age of 37, with only38 cents to his name.

  • Article

    It's Coming - the Postponeless Creature

    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 ...

  • Article

    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 ...

  • Article

    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 ...

  • Article

    My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free

    Song Collection. The song is contained in a collection of Hopkinson's manuscripts, dating 1759-60, and housed in the Music Division of the Library of Congress. As was the performance practice at the time, Hopkinson composed "My Days have been so Wondrous Free" in but two parts, the treble and bass, leaving the harmonic details to be filled in by the accompanist. The song posses ...

  • Article

    The Banks of the Yellow Sea

    Article. Among the composers who benefited by having works included in the issues of New Music were Ruth Crawford, Charles Ives, Wallingford Riegger, and Carl Ruggles, and Virgil Thomson. Ernst Bacon, who contributed over 200 works to the American art song canon, also benefited from this publication when his Six Songs appeared in the January 1942 issue. The collection features Bacon's settings of the ...

  • Article

    An Old Song Resung

    Song Collection. In addition to housing the published edition of the song, the Music Division at the Library of Congress is also the repository of the holograph version of Griffes's "An Old Song Re-sung," acquired from Griffes's family in 1923. By studying the manuscript in the composer's hand, scholars and musicians can appreciate Griffes's penmanship as well as his attention to detail.

  • Article

    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" ...