Life and Music of Stephen Foster

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Stephen Collins Foster was born on July 4, 1826 by the Allegheny River in Lawrenceville, PA. Stephen was not a big fan of school, instead he preferred to indulge himself in music rather than other subjects. Stephen was tutored and then went to private academies in Pittsburgh and north-central Pennsylvania. He eventually became a well educated person for his day. Stephen was also very literate in music. It is said that he received his formal music training from a German immigrant, Henry Kleber. Henry Kleber was very accomplished and versatile and would eventually have a major influence on the musical life of Pittsburgh. As a teen, Stephen hung out with other teens from some of Pittsburgh’s most respectable families. Stephen was also a part of an all-male secret club called the Knights of the S.T. With his brother Morrison and his close friend, Charles Shiras. Stephen was their song leader and composer. Stephen published his first song at the age of 18, it was entitled “Open Thy Lattice Love.” At the age of 20, Stephen worked at his brother Dunning's steamship firm in Cincinnati as a bookkeeper. While in Cincinnati Stephen sold some of his songs and piano pieces to a local publisher. “Oh! Susanna” was his first big hit. He married Jane Denny MacDowell at the age of 24 and launched his career as a professional songwriter with 12 compositions already in print. Another account of his life says that Stephen composed in a flash of inspiration, songs that expressed his
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