Foster: Stephen. Sheet Music and Biography

By | November 3, 2020

Foster Sheet Music

Black and White Photograph of Stephen Foster smartly dressed in his twenties/thirties
Stephen Foster
4 July 1826-13 Jan 1864

Stephen Foster was an American composer famous for his minstrel music and ballads. He wrote over two hundred songs many of which are still popular today.

We have several arrangements of Beautiful Dreamer for different instruments such as clarinet and tenor sax on our main site.

Though they were accepted at the time, some of the words in his minstrel music are now considered racist.

Life and Career

Foster was born on 4th July 1826 to parents of British descent. He was not formally taught music – teaching himself the clarinet, guitar, clarinet, and flute. Even as a young boy he displayed a natural talent for writing songs.

In 1848 he wrote his first successful songs including “Oh Susanna“, which became the anthem of the California Gold Rush. He sold this song for $100 along with “Old Uncle Ned” – the publisher made about $10,000!

In 1849 Foster published Foster’s Ethiopian Melodies and shortly after signed a contract with the Christy Minstrels. It was then that he wrote many of his most well-known pieces including “Camptown Races”, “Old Folks Home(Swanee River), and “My Old Kentucky Home“.

In 1850 Foster married and had one daughter, but the marriage was turbulent and they separated.

Foster wasn’t known for his business astuteness and in 1857 whilst experiencing financial difficulties sold all his future songs to his publishers for just $1,900. The profits made by the performers and publishers far exceeded this!

Death

Foster had a premature death at the age of thirty-seven. There are a few different accounts of his death, one being that he fell down the stairs in a hotel, badly cutting his neck, others mention suicide by cutting his neck with a knife and also falling onto broken crockery. He was taken to hospital but died shortly after on 13th January 1864.

After his death, one of his most popular songs “Beautiful Dreamer” was published.

Foster Sheet Music Downloads and Further Reading

On music-scores.com we have a selection of Stephen Foster sheet music in PDF format for you to download.

For further information take a look at Wikipedia, Britannica and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

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