Foster, Stephen Collins (1826-1864)
Stephen Collins Foster (July 4, 1826 – January 13, 1864), known as "the father of American music", was an American songwriter primarily known for his parlor and minstrel music. Foster wrote over 200 songs; among his best-known are "Oh! Susanna", "Hard Times Come Again No More" , "Camptown Races", "Old Folks at Home", "My Old Kentucky Home", "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair", "Old Black Joe", and "Beautiful Dreamer". Many of his compositions remain popular more than 150 years after he wrote them. His compositions are thought to be autobiographical. He has been identified as "the most famous songwriter of the nineteenth century", and may be the most recognizable American composer in other countries. His compositions are sometimes referred to as "childhood songs" because they are included in the music curriculum of early education. Most of his handwritten music manuscripts are lost but copies printed by publishers of his day can be found in various collections.