Foundations of American Music — The Songs of Stephen Foster

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Wednesday, 7 November, 2012

It’s the day after the US Elections, and while our friends there (and elsewhere) are recovering from being up all night, 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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