"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 ...
Will Marion Cook (1869-1944)
Biography. Biography. Biography. Cook also followed his own advice. Thomas Riis, in his study of early black musical theater, singles out Cook's remarkable harmonic skill and compositional sophistication. When the pursuit of his classical career was stymied, Cook brought his exceptional talent to bear on popular music, perhaps paving the way for the marriage of popular spirit and classical complexity which became jazz. Either ...
R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)
Biography. Dett was opposed to the style of "swinging the spirituals" that was becoming popular during the 1930s. He held a poll among his students at Bennett College regarding their opinions of the popular style. One of his students, reflecting Dett' s teaching, wrote: "I like the music, but I don't like the way it was sung. . . . I think it lowers ...
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 ...
George W. Chadwick (1854-1931)
Biography. Biography. Biography. Chadwick is often dubbed the dean of American composers because of his position as conservatory director, his textbooks, and his teaching. He directly influenced important turn-of-the-century composers such as Horatio Parker, Daniel Gregory Mason, Frederick Converse, and William Grant Still. He received honorary degrees from Yale (A.M., 1897) and Tufts (LL.D., 1905). He was a member of the National Institute of ...
Mabel Daniels (1878-1971)
Biography. Upon her return to America, Daniels joined Boston's Cecilia Society, where she was exposed to modern choral works with orchestra. She assumed the directorship of Radcliffe's glee club and the Bradford Academy music program (1911-13). In 1913, she was appointed head of music at Simmons College, where she served through 1918. She later established composition prizes and funds at Radcliffe to aid music ...
William W. Gilchrist (1846-1916)
Biography. Biography. Biography. Gilchrist suffered periodic bouts of depression and was unable to conduct at the Mendelssohn Club concerts in 1913. He spent the last 16 months of his life receiving treatment at the Easton Sanatorium in Pennsylvania.
Margaret R. Lang (1867-1972)
Biography. Lang was self critical of her works and frequently destroyed them. None of her orchestral works are extant. After her father's death in 1909, she became caretaker of her elderly mother. She stopped composing in 1919. A zealous Episcopalian, she published a series of devotional pamphlets titled "Messages from God" between 1927 and 1939. At her own expense, she printed and distributed 6,000 ...
Horatio W. Parker (1863-1919)
Biography. Parker's most impressive accomplishments within the choral genre are his large-scale sacred works. His first oratorio, Hora novissima, is considered by many to be his masterpiece. Composed in 1893 for the Church Choral Society of New York, the oratorio is an eleven-movement setting of medieval Latin poetry by Bernard de Morlaix. The holograph is in the holdings of the Music Division, Library of ...
"Festival Hymn" by Dudley Buck
Article. The composer provides his own celebratory text that extols the power of music to unite nations. At the midpoint, Buck's music climaxes on the words "O blessed bond 'twixt the high and the lowly," which is answered more prayerfully, "Thy language is known to each nation." In the quietest moment women sing on a simple tonic triad, "O Music," which is answered by ...
"Bedtime (1906)" by Dudley Buck
Article. Buck's setting begins with eight chimes of the clock in the keyboard accompaniment, each chime labeled with a Roman numeral I through VIII. The mother scolds the child with a minor-mode admonition, "Why it's late! After eight! And it's time you were in bed." Buck uses the same chiming device before each succeeding verse of the strophic setting. In the coda, the chimes ...
"O How Amiable" by Dudley Buck
Article. Buck's sacred compositions include large-scale works, four cantatas, 55 anthems and 20 sacred songs. He played a central role in the development of organ and choral music in the United States.
"Inconstancy" by George Whitefield Chadwick
Article. Article. In this chorus he sets Shakespeare's text "Sigh no more ladies" from Much Ado about Nothing. The opening line receives a plaintive homophonic setting before the piece launches into a buoyant free counterpoint. Chadwick's rhythms are tied closely to the agogic stress of the text. He makes use of a folk-like pentatonic melody on "Then sigh not so, but let them go," ...
"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.
"The Voice of My Beloved" by Mabel Wheeler Daniels
Article. Daniels wrote her best-known work, Exultate Deo (1929), to celebrate Radcliffe's fiftieth anniversary and A Psalm of Praise (1954) for the college's seventy-fifth anniversary. Her Song of Jael, premiered at the 1940 Worcester Festival, marked her first venture into a modern musical idiom, using daring dissonances and highly original choral effects.
" Enchantment, op. 17, no. 1, (1908)" by Mabel Wheeler Daniels
Article. Daniels's compositional career gained major status in 1913, when she presented her choral/orchestral work The Desolate City, op. 21, at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. Following that success, she returned to the MacDowell as a fellow for twenty-four successive summers. The wooded setting inspired one of her most widely played orchestral compositions, Deep Forest, op. 34, no. 1, (1932-33), which was the ...
"Don't Be Weary, Traveler" by R. Nathaniel Dett
Article. R. Nathaniel Dett dedicated Don't Be Weary, Traveler to philanthropist and arts patron George Foster Peabody. It was published by the John Church Company, "The House Devoted to the Progress of American Music." The publisher included it in a series titled "Negro Spirituals. Folk Songs of the South, Adaptations of Original Melodies by R. Nathaniel Dett." The publication was issued in 1921, just ...
"There's a Meetin' Here Tonight" by R. Nathaniel Dett
Article. The John Church Company published Dett's arrangement of There's a Meetin' Here Tonight in 1921. The composer dedicated the work to the Cecilia Society of Boston, an all-white chorus organized in 1874 under the sponsorship of Harvard University. The same group had premiered Dett'sChariot Jubilee a year earlier.
"Done Paid My Vow to the Lord" by R. Nathaniel Dett
Article. Dett arranged Done Paid My Vow to the Lord for baritone or contralto solo, women voices, and piano in 1919. It was published that year by the John Church Company. The tune did not appear in his collection Religious Folk-Song of the Negro as Sung at the Hampton Institute (1927). Rather, the spiritual came from the collection of George Lake Imes, secretary 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 ...
"I Love Thee, Lord" by William W. Gilchrist
Article. The choral writing features a dialogue between the upper three voices and the bass. Gilchrist was fond of using contrapuntal devices to enliven his choral writing. At the end of the second verse, "Our source, our centre, and our dwelling place," triplets suddenly emerge in the accompaniment. The voices remain in common time, however, creating a rhythmic tension as the sopranos climb to ...
"The Old Person of Cassel (1905)" by Margaret Ruthven Lang
Article. In her SATB [soprano, alto, tenor, bass] setting with piano accompaniment of Lear's The Old Person of Cassel (1905), she humorously interjects numerous "ha, ha," responses to each line of text. The nose of the old person of Cassel was "finished off in a tassel," which Lang paints with a stuttering musical figurethat sounds like a stifled sneeze.
"The Old Man with a Beard (1907)" by Margaret Ruthven Lang
Article. In Lang's setting of Lear's The Old Man with a Beard (1907), the piano part is filled with twittering figures to represent the two owls, one hen, four larks, and a wren who built their nests in the man's beard. He relates the problem, according to Lang's musical direction, "with anguish."
"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.
Gena Branscombe (1881-1977)
Biography. Branscombe's compositional output includes some 150 art songs, piano and chamber music, a few orchestral works, and a large body of choral pieces. Her most important orchestral work is Quebec Suite from her unfinished opera The Bells of Circumstance. In addition to her many choral compositions for women's voices, she wrote Coventry's Choir (1962), which was widely performed in Great Britain. Her hymn, ...