Stephen Foster Memorial Day on January 13th commemorates the music of the man who composed hundreds of America’s first popular songs.
Born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1826, Stephen Foster became known as America’s First Composer. His catchy tunes based on minstrel songs are still known today.
Despite Foster’s exclusive music contract with Firth, Pond, and Company, when he died at the age of 37, he was penniless. While his songs were wildly popular, the lack of copyright protection and alcoholism left him with nothing of value to show for his work.
During his short life, Foster wrote over 200 songs. His best-known compositions include “Oh! Susanna,” “Camptown Races,” “Old Folks at Home,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” “Old Black Joe,” and “Beautiful Dreamer” and are still very popular today.
Foster died on January 13, 1864, at the age of 37.
HOW TO OBSERVE #StephenFosterMemorialDay
Read about the life of Stephen Foster or watch a documentary. Listen to some of his music. You might be surprised to learn how familiar some of it is. How many of them do you already know? Check out our suggestions below:
- Doo-dah! by Ken Emerson
- Beautiful Dreamer: The Life of Stephen Collins Foster by Ellen Hunter Ulken
- Read about the African American influence on Stephen Foster’s music.
Use #StephenFosterMemorialDay to post on social media.
STEPHEN FOSTER MEMORIAL DAY HISTORY
Stephen Foster Memorial Day is a United States Federal Observance Day according to Title 36 of the United States Code. It was made law in November of 1966 and was first celebrated in 1967.
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