Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

A Biography Of America's Folk-Song Composer By Harold Vincent Milligan

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YOUTH                                   35
and dedicated to Miss Susan E. Pentland," who was Captain Pentland's daughter.
There is more than a suggestion in the reminiscences of that time of a romance between Susan Pentland and Stephen, but if there was such an affair, it could not have assumed very serious proportions at the time this song was written, for Susan was only eleven, and Stephen sixteen. Perhaps the real attraction existed not so much in the person of the fair young Susan, as in the fact that the Pentlands had a piano and the Fosters had none. Pianos were scarce in the forties and fifties, and the possession of one must have been a mark of great dis­tinction. To Stephen's starving young soul, the Pent­land piano must have been as an oasis in a dreary desert. Later the Fosters acquired a piano, but the date of this important event is a mystery.
At the present time there are three pianos which claim the honor of having inspired Stephen Foster to musical productivity. In the Carnegie Museum in Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, is a piano which once belonged to Stephen Foster. Miss Pentland's piano is now in the Foster Homestead on Penn Avenue. The third piano, with some claim to having been the "favorite," belonged to Miss Mary Woods. It was brought to Pittsburgh in 1849 by Henry Kleber, and is said to be one of the first two upright pianos to cross the Alleghany mountains. It was made in Leipzig, Germany, by Friedrich & Haupt, and preceded by many years the first attempts by Amer­ican manufacturers to make uprights, their attention being confined for many years after the importation of this instrument to grand and square pianos.
The story goes that while these two upright pianos were on exhibition in Mr. Kleber's store, Mrs. Woods, the mother of the present owner, selected one of them, after testing them both. Later in the same day, before the one selected by Mrs. Woods had been delivered to her, Stephen Foster tried the two pianos and chose the

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III