There are a number of different song forms for the songwriter, or composer, to chose from just as there are different kinds of songs. The ballad forms of Western music (as opposed to Eastern, or Oriental music) have been around for hundreds of years. And the ballad forms have not changed very much since the days of the troubadours in Europe.
In the nineteenth century such European composers as Brahms, Schubert, and Schumann, were leaders in the production of German lieder, while Faure, Debussy, and Ravel perfected the French impressionistic art song. The operas of such composers as Puccini, Verdi, and Rossini contained arias that were, in effect, beautiful songs of extended melodic format.
In America, in the 1700's, most all songs were hymns, folk songs, and dance tunes brought over by settlers and immigrants from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. However, these are said to have been the germ for the start of American music. Then, there was very little that was written down as music. There were no copyright laws and no publishing houses. Except for a few composers like William Billings, who wrote and published "The New England Psalm Singer," or "American Chorister," in 1770, there were not many people engaged in writing songs.
Nineteenth century American music expended rapidly and produced such composers as Henry Russell, Eliza Cook, and Amy Beech. In the mid 1800's, the sentimental ballads Stephen Foster achieved great popularity, as did such "minstrel" show composers as James Bland, Dan Emmett, and Thomas D. Rice. During the Civil War, there were two great, prolific song writers: George F. Root and Henry C. Work. We are still singing some of their songs today. The music written in the Victorian age of the late 1800's (post Civil War) largely ignored the contemporary problems, became mired in nostalgia, and has proved to be mediocre. However, we cannot overlook the music of Edward McDowell, America's major composer of the late nineteenth century.
In the twentieth century there have been a significant number of fine art songs written by such American composers as Samuel Barber and Leonard Bernstein, while Gian Carlo Mennotti has become a well known composer of modern opera. As the American musical theater developed, such composers as Victor Herbert, George M. Cohan, and George Gershwin became household names as they wrote hit show after hit show. Later, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, and such great teams as Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Lerner and Lowe dominated the American musical stage. We have been blessed in this century with a large number of great songwriters; Harold Arlen, Neil Diamond, Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb, Carole King, Sammy Cahn, and Irving Berlin, just to name a few. Beginning in the 1980's, individual composers have become less well known as performers have preferred to write their own material rather than sing someone else's songs.
A great many of Max's "popular" songs have been written as a part of community, or service-club, produced musical shows for charitable benefits. And many have been written just to satisfy the elusive and capricious musical muse. To review the list of Max's songs please click your mouse button on the link below.