Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
September 11
Can You Guess?
Foster also composed a tune did not write about in my biographical article in which he mentions betting money on a "bob-tailed nag." Can You Guess what song that is?

Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
1850 - P.T. Barnam introduced Swedish soprano Jenny Lind , known as the "Swedish Nightingale," to America paying her $1000 per engagement.

1887 - Premiere of Antonin Dvorák's Mass in D, Op. 86. A private performance in Luzany.

- Premiere of Stravinky's opera The Rake's Progress in Venice at La Fenice Opera House conducted by Stravinsky.

1971 - Premiere of Samuel Barber's Fadograph from a Yestern Scene. Inspired by a line from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. The Pittsburgh Symphony, at the opening concert in Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, PA.

1977 - David Bowie and Bing Crosby recorded a duet version of The Little Drummer Boy. The song appeared on Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas LP.

2002 - Worldwide tribute for victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.  A Rolling Requiem... with performances of Mozart's Requiem in each time zone forming "a world standing together to remember a moment in time, to lift up its voice in song, in prayer, in honor of those who died one year earlier at the World Trade Center in New York City."

Did You Guess?
One version goes
The Campptown ladies sing this song,
Doo-da, Doo-da
The Camptown racetrack's five miles long
Oh, de doo-da day

Goin' to run all night
Goin' to run all day
I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the bay
The song is called Camptown Races.
Oh, Susannah was sung in public for the first time September 11, 1847. Some said that its composer, Stephen Foster, sold the rights to the song for a bottle of whiskey.

Stephen Foster was born July 4, 1826 in Lawrenceville, PA.
He was the ninth child of William Barclay Foster and the former Eliza Clayland Tomlinson. He was an indifferent student, but loved music, and he taught himself the flute, clarinet, guitar, violin, and piano
Although Foster never formally studied composition, by the age of 14 he was writing songs, and at 18 he had his first piece published.

Foster entertained at social gatherings, but he earned his living as a bookkeeper. At first he wrote two types of music.  He sold minstrel songs to established stage performers.  In spite of the subject of many minstrel shows, it is said that African Americans liked Foster's music.  Not only was it dignified, it was also just plain good.  Even W.E.B. DuBois said that Foster's "Swanee River," as we now know it, and "Old Black Joe" were different and separate from the truly racist songs of the period.

Foster's other music written in this period consisted of more dignified parlor songs, which he intended to engage middle-class listeners, especially women. 

In 1849, Foster wrote
Susannah, better known today as Oh! Susannah. The forty-niners and others heading West picked up the song, and it was still identified with travel West years later. Until now Foster had only received small fees from publishers, but this song earned him his first real publishing contract. He became a professional songwriter the next year.

For most of the early 1850s, Foster concentrated on writing minstrel songs, but he also began to look at larger scale works.  The Invisible Prince, a musical play written with a friend in 1853 was followed the next year by Social Orchestra, a collection of 73 melodies, of his own as well as songs others had written and Foster arranged. After 1854 Foster on parlor ballads such as Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair.  This type of song was accepted by people of all social classes, and sales soared.  But Foster's publisher denied him payment after the period of his contracts ran out, and this led to financial troubles.

In 1857, trying to pay off his debts, Foster sold all rights to his existing song catalog to his publisher. In 1860 Foster moved to New York City in an effort to be near the heart of American theater.  The inspiration it brought led him to write 98 songs (including parlor songs, hymns and music hall songs) in the next three years.

Foster never fully caught up with his debts in spite of the success of his songs.  He had to write continually to keep money coming in.  He managed to sustain himself until an accident In early 1864; on January 10 of that year, while living in a hotel in New York and weakened from a previous accident in which he was burned by a lamp, Foster collapsed and struck his head.

The man who was probably the best known songwriter in the United States was admitted to the charity ward of Bellvue Hospital, his occupation being listed as "laborer"  Stephen Foster died January 13, 1864.  He was not yet 38 years old.
Stephen Foster
1826 - 1864
Stephen Foster
Somewhat Non-Traditional
Presentation of Foster's Music
But a Great Album!
Mozart's Requiem
A Classic Performance!