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Stephen Foster Essay

1046 words - 5 pages

Stephen Collins Foster was born on July 4, 1826 by the Allegheny River in Lawrenceville, PA. Stephen was not a big fan of school, instead he preferred to indulge himself in music rather than other subjects. Stephen was tutored and then went to private academies in Pittsburgh and north-central Pennsylvania. He eventually became a well educated person for his day. Stephen was also very literate in music. It is said that he received his formal music training from a German immigrant, Henry Kleber. Henry Kleber was very accomplished and versatile and would eventually have a major influence on the musical life of Pittsburgh.
As a teen, Stephen hung out with other teens from some of ...view middle of the document...

In his own words Stephen said he sought to “build up taste...among refined people by making words suitable to their taste, instead of the trashy and really offensive words which belong to some songs of that order.” This compassion in his songs was encouraged by Charles Shiras, who was a leader of the abolitionist movement in Pittsburgh. Stephen and Shiras composed at least one song together and a stage work that was performer but never published and is now lost.
A third account on his life says that Stephen had no business sense and squandered his wealth. He kept his own account books as well as writing out his own contracts. Foster was a musical pioneer. He was not wealthy, due to the fact that there were no copyright laws or “performing rights” to be bought. At the age of 37, Stephen Foster died on January 13, 2864 with 38 cents in his pocket. Stephen died from a persistent fever and a self inflicted blow to the head, according to his brother Henry.
Some of the great pieces that Foster composed before his death were, “Oh! Susanna,” which was a financial failure due to the lack of copyright laws. Another piece Foster composed was, “Nelly Was a Lady.” Foster also write ballads and dances for parlor singers which were often refereed to “Ethiopian” songs. These songs depicted African-American slaves a simple good creatures. A few other pieces he composed were, “Angelina Baker” (1851), “Away Down Souf” (1848), “Ring Ring de Banjo!” (1851), “Old Folks at Home” (1851). Some other songs from the early 1850s similar to “Old Folks at Home” are “Farewell, My Lilly Dear” (1851), “My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night” (1853), “Old Dog Tray” (1853), and “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair” (1854). Stephen's composed a song entitles, “Hard Time Come Again No More” in 1855. This song was a reflection of his and his wife's short separation in1853 and Shiras death, along with...

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