Foundations of American Music — The Songs of Stephen Foster

Fol­low­ing on from Gabi’s Fourth of July pro­gramme yes­ter­day, today we’re focus­ing on the foun­da­tions of music in the Unit­ed States, and in par­tic­u­lar the songs of Stephen Fos­ter (1826–64), whose songs are still well-known and well-loved today.

In addi­tion, we’ll be lis­ten­ing to some of the ear­li­est folk music of this part of North Amer­i­ca — from the music the set­tlers brought with them from their orig­i­nal home­lands to the music they wrote about what they found and made after they arrived, run­ning up to around the end of the Civ­il War. In many cas­es you’ll be able to hear the roots of folk music from the British Isles in the pieces.

We have both tra­di­tion­al and mod­ern per­for­mances of these folk songs, along­side mod­ern com­po­si­tions in tra­di­tion­al styles by such star per­form­ers as Jay Ungar and Mol­ly Mason. Today’s pro­gramme also includes a wide-rang­ing selec­tion of music from the First Nations, from Pow-wow record­ings to pieces with con­tem­po­rary instru­men­ta­tion.

And we’ll be play­ing quite a col­lec­tion of both tra­di­tion­al and mod­ern ren­der­ings of songs by Stephen Fos­ter includ­ing piano tran­scrip­tions, orches­tral suites, and much more.

Says Wikipedia: Stephen Collins Fos­ter (July 4, 1826 – Jan­u­ary 13, 1864), known as the “father of Amer­i­can music”, was the pre-emi­nent song­writer in the Unit­ed States of the 19th cen­tu­ry. His songs — such as “Oh! Susan­na”, “Camp­town Races”, “Old Folks at Home” (“Swa­nee Riv­er”), “Hard Times Come Again No More”, “My Old Ken­tucky Home”, “Old Black Joe”, “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”, and “Beau­ti­ful Dream­er” — remain pop­u­lar over 150 years after their com­po­si­tion.

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme in-world now at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:

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