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Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Biography

    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 ...

  • Biography

    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 ...

  • Biography

    Nora Bayes

    Nora Bayes (1880–1928) was a tremendously popular vaudevillian and star of the Broadway musical stage. She is still remembered for the gigantic hit "Shine On, Harvest Moon," which she co-wrote with her then-husband Jack Norworth. Although the title was a success for other artists, the only recording of it made by Norworth and Bayes was never released. Bayes, whose real name was Dora Goldberg, ...

  • Biography

    Billy Murray

    Billy Murray (1877–1954) was perhaps the most prolific recording artist of the acoustic recording era. His distinctive nasal baritonish-tenor voice, which recorded extremely well, and his perfect diction contributed to the popularity of his records. During his career, Murray recorded for nearly every company in existence, most notably for Edison and Victor. Murray's repertoire, while confined to the popular idiom, was wide-ranging. He was ...

  • Biography

    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 ...

  • Biography

    Original Dixieland Jazz Band

    Original Dixieland Jazz Band became immensely popular when the group began recording for Victor Records in 1917. Their discs are viewed as the very first jazz records issued. The group consisted of five men, all from New Orleans: Nick LaRocca, cornet; Eddie Edwards, trombone; Larry Shields, clarinet; Henry Ragas, piano; and Tony Sbarbaro, drums. They played in an ensemble style that became the model ...

  • Biography

    American Quartet

    American Quartet was the name given to several recording vocal quartets during the early years of the record industry. The name was used as early as 1899 for a group that included tenors John Bieling and Jere Mahoney, baritone S. H. Dudley, and bass William F. Hooley. The best-known American Quartet made its first appearance in 1909 for Victor Records and served as an ...

  • Biography

    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.

  • Biography

    S. H. Dudley

    S. H. Dudley was the stage name of Samuel Holland Rous (1864–1947), a self-taught baritone who performed comfortably in both the operatic and popular fields. He began recording in 1900 and soon was associated with the Victor Talking Machine Company as an interpreter of comic songs and as a member the much-recorded Haydn Quartet. In 1903 Dudley became an assistant director of recording for ...

  • Biography

    Arthur Pryor

    Arthur Pryor (1870–1942) was considered to be the world's greatest trombone virtuoso when he was soloist with Sousa's Band during the 1890s. His fame grew when he became Sousa's assistant conductor. In1903 he formed his own concert band, which soon became a fixture at venues such as Asbury Park, New Jersey, and Willow Grove Park, near Philadelphia. Pryor recorded copiously for Victor Records both ...

  • Biography

    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 ...

  • Biography

    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. ...

  • Biography

    The Happiness Boys

    Billy Jones (1889–1940) and Ernest Hare (1883–1939) were an enormously popular comic singing duo. They claimed to have been the first duo to be signed by a radio sponsor. They began recording together in late 1920 and in December 1923 began their first radio program, a series for the Happiness Candy Company. This association gave them their well-known and apt sobriquet "The Happiness Boys." ...

  • Biography

    Byron G. Harlan

    Byron G. Harlan (1861–1936) was a versatile tenor who specialized in sentimental ballads. He also performed as a comedian and frequently recorded in the character of a "rube" in sketches with Frank C. Stanley. Harlan is best known as the higher-pitched half of the duo Collins and Harlan, with baritone Arthur Collins. He began recording for Victor Records in 1901.

  • Biography

    Morton Harvey

    Morton Harvey (1886–1961) was, according to Victor advertising, a tenor. But in reality he had a baritone voice range that he exhibited on many recordings—not only for Victor, but also for Edison, Columbia, and Emerson. On October 2, 1914 he recorded, for Victor, what appears to be the first vocal blues on record, W. C. Handy's "Memphis Blues." Harvey had a successful career in ...

  • Biography

    Haydn Quartet

    Haydn Quartet (pronounced hay-den) was a much-recorded male quartet that most often consisted of tenors John Bieling and Harry Macdonough, baritone S. H. Dudley, and William F. Hooley as bass. Later Reinald Werranrath replaced Dudley. Whereas the American Quartet generally recorded bright, often ragtime-infused popular numbers, the Haydn (later spelled Hayden) Quartet usually sang slower-tempo, statelier, sometimes religious material. They also recorded vernacular selections ...

  • Biography

    William F. Hooley

    William F. Hooley (1861–1918) was an Irish-born bass singer who recorded prolifically during the early 1900s. He sometimes recorded as a soloist, but more frequently lent his resonant basso to early recording vocal ensembles such as the American Quartet, Haydn Quartet, Lyric Trio, and Orpheus Quartet. Hooley's recording career began in the mid 1890s and lasted until his death in 1918. He also sang ...

  • Biography

    Nathaniel Shilkret

    Nathaniel Shilkret (1892–1982) served for many years as the Victor Company's musical director and was the creator of the Victor Salon Orchestra. Shilkret was a classically trained clarinetist, pianist, composer, and arranger and handled recording sessions as disparate as grand opera, ethnic ensembles, and dance music with equal skill.

  • Biography

    Six Brown Brothers

    Six Brown Brothers were a popular sextet of saxophonists. Originally, the group was composed primarily of male siblings who worked under the leadership of their brother Tom. They recorded for the Emerson, Columbia, and Victor record companies. The group's wide-ranging repertoire included ragtime, marches, operatic arias, and comical-novelty selections such as "Chicken Reel." The sextet's rich and harmonious timbre blended the sounds of the ...

  • Biography

    Paul Whiteman

    Paul Whiteman (1890–1967), billed as "The King of Jazz" by a clever press agent, was perhaps the most visible and easily recognized celebrity of the 1920s. The cherubic, mustachioed maestro was certainly the decade's most famous dance orchestra leader, and his Victor records were always big sellers. His first issued record, "Whispering" and "Japanese Sandman," ushered in a new style of dance music, slimmed ...

  • 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" ...