"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.
"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 ...
"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 ...
Sure on This Shining Night
Song Collection. Anecdotes aside, Barber must have appreciated the song's warm reception for nearly thirty years later he arranged "Sure on this Shining Night" (along with "A Nun Takes the Veil," also from Four Songs, op. 13) for chorus. The arrangements were extremely popular and sold over a hundred thousand copies. To date, "Sure on this Shining Night" remains a favorite among solo singers ...
Song Collection. While the charm of "The Daisies" lies in the combination of the graceful melody with the asymmetrical textual underlay, the holograph manuscript suggests that Barber initially favored a more dissonant opening melodic phrase. Perhaps at the suggestion of his composition teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music, Rosario Scalero, Barber removed the accidentals prior to publication to form the song's diatonic opening. ...
The Boatmen's Dance and Simple Gifts
Song Collection. Copland's holograph sketches for both sets of the Old American Songs can be accessed on-line through the Aaron Copland Collection at the Library of Congress: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/copland/index.html.
The Golden Willow Tree
Song Collection. The text of "The Golden Willow Tree" is the most extensive of the collection, featuring a fairly lengthy narrative tale of maritime exploits. Although Copland completely modified the contour of the melodic line, he retained the modal ambiguities found in the original folksong. Copland's reworking of the melody for "The Golden Willow Tree" can be found in the holograph sketches of the ...
Rain Has Fallen and I Hear an Army
Song Collection. The first two songs of the collection received their premiere in Rome at the Villa Aurelia at the American Academy on 22 April 1936, with Barber accompanying himself at the piano. The third song was heard nearly a year later, on 7 March 1937, at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with mezzo-soprano Rose Bampton accompanied by the composer. "I Hear ...
Aaron Copland, 1900-1990
Biography. Further information, including holograph manuscripts, sketches, letters, and other primary resources are available through the Library of Congress's on-line presentation of the Aaron Copland Collection: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/copland.
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 ...
To What You Said
Song Collection. Bernstein's setting of Walt Whitman's unpublished poem, "To What You Said," is the fourth song in the cycle. Nearly mistaken as an abandoned scribble, the poem was discovered on the verso of page thirty of the holograph manuscript of Whitman's Democratic Vistas (1871), which is housed in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection at the Library of Congress. Bernstein was reportedly attracted to ...
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 ...
Look Down, Fair Moon
Song Collection. "Look Down, Fair Moon," is contained in a collection of Rorem's songs, the Five Poems of Walt Whitman, which was published by Boosey and Hawkes in 1970. The song was dedicated to Donald Gramm, who has recorded the song for the Phoenix label. The stark lament has also been championed by mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, recorded for the Erato label in 2000, and ...
Song Collection. Warren has been described as the "only woman among the group of prominent American neo-Romanticists that includes Howard Hansen, Samuel Barber, and Gian Carlo Menotti." She was active up until her death in 1991 at age 91, and created over 200 works throughout her lifetime. Her music is currently enjoying a revival.