Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

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

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TRAGEDY                              101
Foster was the beginning of a long and very successful career as a writer of song lyrics, a career that brought him into intimate contact with the course of American musical composition during the past fifty years. His name appears on the list of first editions of Foster's songs, published by the Library of Congress, as the author of the words of eighteen of the songs. One of them is erroneously attributed to "Henry" Cooper, due to a typographical error on the title-page of the first edition.
Shortly after my first interview with Mr. Cooper, I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with another person who had known Stephen Foster—Mrs. Parkhurst Duer, a lady now living in Brooklyn, who was at the time of Foster's death employed in the music store of Horace Waters. The interview which I had with her was recently published, in substantially the same form in "The Etude," from which the following quotation is made:
I shall never forget the day I met him. I was engaged in a large music publishing house on Broadway, New York City, leading a very busy life, although but twenty-one years of age. Every day I met teachers and composers, and was ever hoping that Stephen Foster would appear. I had heard that he was living in New York, but had never known anything about his life; yet his songs had created within me a feeling of reverence for the man, and I longed to see him. One day I was speaking with the clerks when the door opened, and a poorly dressed, very dejected looking man came in, and leaned against the counter near the door. I noticed he looked ill and weak. No one spoke to him. A clerk laughed and said:
"Steve looks down and out."
Then they all laughed, and the poor man saw them laughing at him. I said to myself, "Who can Steve be?" It seemed to me, my heart stood still. I asked, "Who is that man?"
"Stephen Foster," the clerk replied. "He is only a vagabond, don't go near him."
"Yes, I will go near him, that man needs a friend," was my reply.
I was terribly shocked. Forcing back the tears, I waited for that lump in the throat which prevents speech, to clear away. I walked over to him, put out my hand, and asked, "Is this Mr. Foster?"
He took my hand and replied:
"Yes, the wreck of Stephen Collins Foster."
"Oh, no," I answered, "not a wreck, but whatever you call your­self, I feel it an honor to take by the hand the author of 'Old Folks







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