Pitt Helps Commemorate Stephen Foster Day Jan. 13

Issue Date: 
January 10, 2011

The life and accomplishments of Pittsburgh native Stephen Foster will be celebrated Jan. 13 as the region marks the 147th anniversary of the composer’s death.

Foster was born in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh on July 4, 1826, and became a world-renowned songwriter, portraying life in mid-19th America through such legendary compositions as “Old Folks at Home,” “Oh! Susanna,” “Camptown Races,” and “Beautiful Dreamer.” He died at age 37 on Jan. 13, 1864, and is buried in Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville.

At 10 a.m. Jan. 13, children from Immaculate Conception School will gather to sing Foster songs at the Temple of Memories Mausoleum, Allegheny Cemetery, 4734 Butler St., Lawrenceville.

Remarks will be made by Deane Root, Pitt professor of music and director and Fletcher Hodges Jr. Curator of Pitt’s Center for American Music, and Jacqueline Longmore, a representative of the Lawrenceville Historical Society.

Foster’s music is still widely used in television and films. The CD Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster (American Roots Publishing, 2004) won the 2005 Grammy Award in the category Best Traditional Folk Album.

“People all over the world see Foster as epitomizing American music,” says Root. “He launched what we think of today as popular music, and his influence is still being felt.”

—Sharon S. Blake