Jenny Lind the Swedish Nightingale. Poster from the collection of the University of Sheffield.

Superfans in the Nineteenth Century

Americans have long obsessed over their favorite musicians.
Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein, Teacher

Leonard Bernstein was a famous composer, conductor, and pianist. But by some accounts, his favorite accomplishment was teaching children about music.
disco backlash

The Night They Drove Disco Down

On July 12th, 1979, a promotional event turned into a violent fracas, marking the beginning of the end of disco. Some say it was fueled by anti-gay anger.
Enjoying a Music Festival

From Saturnalia to Coachella

Art, music, religious, and seasonal festivals have been a part of human life since prehistory. How have they changed as society has changed?
World Cup 2010

Why We Love World Cup Anthems

The excitement of the FIFA World Cup is exemplified by the songs that become World Cup anthems—both official and unofficial.
1970s singer songwriters

How Female Singer-Songwriters Taught Us to Love in the 70s

Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon offered a way to imagine more modern ideals of romance and sexual relationships.
Pigeon Pete

Pigeon Whistles: From Utilitarian to Orchestral

Composition with pigeons. One flock's dynamic movement created a spatial music that was constantly crescendoing and dissipating in a long haunting chord.
Parlor room

What Ever Happened to the Parlor?

For musicologist Edith Borroff, the parlor was egalitarian, open, and joyful—all qualities she equates with the best musical spirit.
player piano

Player Pianos and the Commodification of Music

Half of all American homes had a piano or player piano a century ago, but very few do now. Whatever happened to the parlor piano?
Julia Ward Howe

The Long, Winding History of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Julia Ward Howe wrote her most famous poem, the legendary Civil War song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” in a single burst of inspiration 156 years ago.