The Life and Times of Stephen Foster

The Life and Times of Stephen Foster

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ISBN: 9781584152132

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Stephen Foster was a musical genius born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, and into the wrong family. The middle of the nineteenth century was an era of development, of conquering the land and building canals and railroads. The men who were admired were the engineers and builders, the developers and inventors, not artists and composers.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Cincinnati, Ohio, where Stephen spent his early years were rough river towns. Fortunes were made and lost transporting goods on the rivers. The Foster family was originally successful, but by the time Stephen was born on the 4th of July 1826, they were losing their land and their home.

Stephen s father considered his son s interest in music to be a bad habit. Stephen persisted in writing songs—the best-loved and most famous songs in America. But he wrote his songs before the days when copyright laws protected songwriters. If he had written his music today— Oh! Susanna, My Old Kentucky Home, Camptown Races, Old Black Joe, Way Down Upon the Swanee River —he would have been a millionaire many times over. When Foster died in poverty in New York in 1864, he had 38 cents in his pocket, one penny for each year he lived.

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