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Definition: Foster, Stephen Collins from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US songwriter. He wrote 175 sentimental popular songs including ‘The Old Folks at Home’ (1851), ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ (1853), and ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ (1864), and rhythmic minstrel songs such as ‘Oh! Susanna’ (1848) and ‘Camptown Races’ (1850).

Born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, he had no formal training in music but began to write early, and published his first song as early as 1842. Although many of his songs became very popular and profitable, he mismanaged his career and spent the last years of his life in debt.


Summary Article: Foster, Stephen (Collins)
from Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

(born July 4, 1826, Lawrenceville, Pa., U.S.—died Jan. 13, 1864, New York, N.Y.) U.S. songwriter. He began writing songs as a child, influenced in part by black church services he attended with the family’s servant and by songs sung by black labourers. In 1842 he published “Open Thy Lattice, Love,” and in 1848 he sold “Oh! Susanna” for $100; it quickly became an international hit. He later entered into a contract with the publisher Firth, Pond & Co. He was commissioned to write songs for Edwin P. Christy’s minstrel show; his “Old Folks at Home” became one of the most popular songs of the century. In 1857, drinking heavily and in financial difficulties, he sold all rights to his future songs to his publishers for about $1,900. In 1860 he moved to New York; he died penniless at age 37, leaving about 200 songs, including “Camptown Races,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” and “Beautiful Dreamer,” and he is universally regarded as the greatest American songwriter of the 19th century.

Birth Place: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

Death Place: New York City, New York, United States

Name: Foster, Stephen or Stephen Foster

Gender: male

Nationality: American

Activity: American composer

Keywords: Foster, Stephen, musical composition, Pennsylvania, ballad, American, Stephen Foster, popular music, music, minstrel show, New York City, Lawrenceville, New York

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Copyright 1994-2017 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc

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