Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

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

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AMBITION
63
Stephen Foster's relations with E. P. Christy, the
minstrel, are disclosed in the following letters, written
at this time. These two letters were recently sold at
auction in New York City and are among the few Foster
autographs that have found their way into public
auction :
Alleghany, June 12, 1851. Mr. E. P. Christy, Dear Sir:
I have just received a letter from Messrs. Firth, Pond & Co., stating that they have copyrighted a new song of mine, "Oh Boys, Carry Me Along," but will not be able to issue it yet, owing to other engagements. This will give me time to send you the manuscript and allow you the privilege of singing it at least two weeks and prob­ably a month before it is issued (unless they catch it up from you). If you will send me $10.00 immediately, I pledge myself as a gentle­man of the old school to give you the manuscript. I have written Firth, Pond & Co. not to publish it until they hear again from me. This song is certain to become popular as I have taken great pains with it. If you accept my proposition, I will make it a point to notify you hereafter whenever I have a new song and send the manu­script to you on the same terms, reserving to myself in all cases the exclusive privilege of publishing. Thus it will become notorious that your band brings out the new songs. You can state in the papers that the song was composed expressly for you. I make this proposition to you because I am sure of the song's popularity. Very respectfully,
Stephen C. Foster.
Christy accepted the proposition, as the second letter
8h0WS-                                                                     June 20th, 1851.
Your favor of the 12th instant enclosing $10 for the first privilege of singing "Oh Boys, Carry Me Along" is received. Accept my thanks. Herewith I send you the manuscript according to agree­ment. I am not certain that you use a piano in your band, but I have arranged an accompaniment for that instrument at a venture. If you have a tenor voice in the company that can sing up to G with ease (which is probable) it would be better to sing the song in the key of G. Thus you will not carry the bass voice quite so low. I hope you will preserve the harmony in the chorus just as I have written it and practise the song well before you bring it out. It is especially necessary that the person who sings the verses should know all the words perfectly, as the least hesitation in the singing will damn any song,—but this of course you know as well as myself. Remember it should be sung in a pathetic, not a comic, style. You will find the last three verses on another page of this letter. I regret that it is too late to have the name of your band on the title-page, but I will endeavor to place it along on future songs and will cheerfully do anything else in my humble way to advance your interest.
Very respectfully yours,
Stephen C. Foster.







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