Catalogue of First Editions of Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864)

Catalogue of First Editions of Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864)

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Catalogue of First Editions of Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864)

Catalogue of First Editions of Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864)

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Few are the composers whose music survives their generation. Stephen Collins Foster died at New York on January 13, 1864--by a remarkable coincidence this American master of song was born in 1826 on the Fourth of July--and his beat music is still a living force in our national life. Many of Foster's songs, of course, belong to the mid-nineteenth century type of sentimental American parlour "ballad," not exactly distinguished by either beauty or skill, but some of his songs possess the beauty and power of imperishable folksongs. Misconception or partisanship may succeed in banishing these songs from our public schools, but Stephen C. Foster's place in the history of music in America is too high to be permanently affected by such efforts.

A library, even a national library, has but limited opportunities for honoring the memory of such a man beyond the immediate interest evinced in him by readers. Exhibits of his works, such as the Library of Congress arranged last year in its exhibition halls, represent one of these opportunities; another suggests itself from the fact that bibliography is the handmaiden of history. The deeper the historical interest in a man of genius grows, the more ramified the desire for bibliographic knowledge about his work is likely to become.

To maintain that the historical interest in Stephen C. Foster has so increased within the last 50 years as to create a craving for bibliographic information about him would be absurd, but that his works have become fairly interesting bibliographically is certain. One reason for this explains itself from the rarity of the original editions of his songs. Just how rare they are only he will realize who attempts to collect them. A Foster enthusiast who has succeeded in collecting all the 158 songs, etc., enumerated in the "Biography, Songs and Musical Compositions of Stephen C. Foster," published in 1896 by his brother Morrison, will have accomplished a neat and difficult feat of collecting, but he can not call himself the happy possessor of all the Foster songs. Curiously enough, while the depository copies of the first editions of about 15 of the songs mentioned by Morrison Foster have defied search--they may have disappeared years before the copyright deposits were transferred from the District courts to the old Library of Congress--our files have brought to light some songs not known to Morrison Foster. Indeed it was this discrepancy . . .

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