Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

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

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DRIFTING                                75
Later: "Give my love to dear Stephen and tell him I wrote him a letter after I came here and directed it to New York."
We might conclude from these letters that Stephen had left his wife in Pittsburgh early in the summer of 1853 and had gone to New York alone, and that his re­turn to Pittsburgh, after a year's residence in New York, took place during his mother's absence; but this would contradict Morrison's story of the sudden disposal of his household effects and of his mother's recognizing his step on the porch. These details are not of vital im­portance, but the incident proves how difficult it is to reconstruct a clear and consistent outline of Stephen Foster's life.
It would be interesting to know of Stephen Foster's attitude toward musical activities other than writing sentimental ballads and songs for negro minstrels, but there is no evidence on the subject. There was consider­able musical life in New York during the years he spent in that city, but there is nothing to indicate that he came in touch with any of it aside from that of the "music halls."
The Philharmonic Orchestra had been organized in 1842, and was giving concerts during the year 1854 when Foster was in New York. There was also a choral organization, "The New York Harmonic Society," founded in 1850, which gave ambitious performances of Elijah and other oratorios. In these and other ways Foster had an opportunity to widen his musical horizon and to deepen his musical knowledge. It might be imag­ined that these experiences would have given him a new conception of the meaning and mission of music, but there is no indication that anything of the kind took place. There were plenty of musicians in New York, men of European training and culture, an acquaintance with whom would have been of inestimable value to Stephen Foster, but he does not seem to have sought

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